Less is more and the difficulty to repeat instant inspiration

A few months ago, I got a sequencer from Arturia as bday present. This motivated me to pick up some music production again.

This time, I also decided to get to know something new: Ableton. Therefore, I did a remake project within Ableton to replicate what I had in 2013. Back then, I think I didn’t really know much using EQ to kill the competing part of the lead sound, I didn’t knwo to cut the “muddy” bass part and I didn’t know much about controlling the dynamics using sidechain. To “less is more”, which is about to reduce insignificant parts, which in the end affects the overall balance of the song, is essential to get a clean song in the end.

But it was still difficult to reproduce what I had: the main lead sound from nexus is something I was not able to replace. The arp effect for the build-up till drop is also something I could not find anymore. It is amazing how the clueless me was able to pick something fitting just by chance and by “having a good feeling” about it.

Below is the project screen from Ableton. MIDI are imported from FL, added a lot of EQ to reduce the unnecessary/not-audible -30Hz part, reduced competing frequencies of instruments and added a lot loudness at the end (5.5db for maximizer in ozone xD).

Original from 2012: really, the instruments were somehow just picked to fit with each other. I am not able to find the old presets anymore (also because of the missing nexus synth). Yes the mixing is not top notch, but the main saw lead just felt right… with enough mid to be the perfect fat saw sound.

Remake from 2020: The mix is for sure better, but somehow it is still not a better version of the 2012 version …

In the end I do believe that less is sometimes more. Focus on the essential things and leave the distractions aside.

And here is also the original soundtrack btw.

2×365 = 730

It has been a while now after the official 2 years mark in the consulting business. And, it has been roughly half a year since my boss, who hired me, left the company.

With the corona virus, things had changed drastically. No air travel, not much client onsite travel. Although it saves a lot of time, the distance between bed and the work table is so short, that I am always appearing asleep in the my first meeting when the camera is turned on (which I usually am).

Even though there is no face-to-face meetings, there were some characters that I got to know. So there are those 2 German colleagues, who claim to be the experts, keep praising themselves until there is no time left to do actual work. Before them, I have not encountered that many people that were like this, but they are now the pinnacle of the self-praise machines. Everytime, they would happily dial-in and also happily take some tasks on their own table. After a long day, where those 2 of course are not able to just sit on their own and type down some words, they need to always discuss it in groups and “deliver” the results together. And the result? Well, the much self-appraised top quality work sometimes are just repeating words, and with no real content from the meeting that we just had with the client. Finally good to get to know some of those people, and I am sure they will not be the last ones.

And then there were this internal auditor who worked in our company a few years ago. At the first meeting, he did not talk much and had a frowning face. The second time we talked, he started to make jokes and laughs a bit, too. The third time we talked, he overthrown his own plans within 15 mins and in the end, put his hands on the table saying he does not know how to proceed. Somehow he just does not know how to bring things clearly together and decide on one outcome. And of course our own colleague was not helping. He never aligned with us internally and then had alignment meetings with this guy and promised stuff that we never agreed upon. In the end, results turned out to be fine, but the nerves those 2 cost us (me and my boss) were the ones that I could have saved to deal with other things.

Now I just realized the blog posts tend just to be me complaining about the shit that is going on. What about the positive things? I guess it is a good confirmation for myself to keep doing what I consider the right thing to do. The results mostly look good and sometimes, it gets political in the end. But that is just how the game is played on the management level. This will be the next things to learn since the new project is now also within a rather higher level of the organization.

Beside, I was compensating my overtime with on and off World of Warcraft. It is a game that you can just keep playing and bridge your time when you don’t want to anything else. Once started, and with friends, it is difficult to stop. But luckily, once you had to break the routine for a couple days, you are not that tempted to revert back.

On weekends, cooking is mostly on the things-to-do list. Don’t ask me how I got there but in the end it is not a bad thing if you don’t just cook for yourself. Additionally, when people are helping out, and you don’t feel left alone is what makes it more valuable.

[pictures will be uploaded later]

I guess I will write so much as of now to just for the sake push it out, just some quick words to fill up the empty activity log on this blog.

Ego, Ego, what will happen if you never let it go?

Well, I guess “a brief interlude” is still not that bad of a title for this phase of my life. Before, I considered moving the blog posts to a less prominent place, but in the end, given the nature of consulting, that you are hopping between different projects, or that people are coming and leaving fast, the word interlude is a quite fitting one after all.

Yes, people are coming and leaving fast. So fast, that my 2 bosses who offered me the job here are leaving again. Compared to the last job, it is not too much out of the blue anymore, since, on one hand I had experience dealing with this and on the other hand, given all the politics happening, and the mood people are in recently, this is hardly a surprise.

If I remember correctly, with the last consulting job they took for 11 months, they were not happy about the elbow fighting that was happening. They hoped this would get better in the new company. But I guess this culture within the big corporate will always be there. And within ours, the fights apparently also happens behind your back. Kindergarten all the way. Another thing on top is the business model we are in. Consulting is a people’s business, the only scalability that you have to earn more money is to either hire more people, or automate more things. But on the management level, the understanding of the client’s issues and his/her own politics, is nothing that you can automate fast.

Many things happend in the last 14 months actually, and I do not know how this path is gonna continue for me, but 2 years at the same company is something that I consider a good thing on the CV. And my direct manager will still be there with me, so “at least I have that going for me, which is nice”. There are so many things to learn from him, so, I won’t be wasting time there.

If you really do want to analyze why these politics exist, I don’t have an answer to it. I have my theories, but well, they are formulated so that I can make sense of everything. Are my theories the truth? I don’t think so. Do they explain everything that I see? You can never know because you can’t read other people’s minds.

I really do think, that politics is driven out of ego, or greed. Whereever that might have been formed, you want to be better than others, you want to be the one who is in charge (but most of them don’t want to be accountable), you want to be recognized because you made it to Partner, and maybe you want to be respected because you only spent 10 years to do so. Along the way, you play the game the way as it benefits you the most. You promise things that might never be fulfilled, you sell projects that you can’t deliver. Things were never done as they were stated in the contract. If we would be more ethical and more responsible, this world, and our everyday mood might just look a lot better. But in the end, it is easier just to let it flow, instead of controlling it. Some people also say that suppressing your mood too much is not healthy in a mental way. And I do know people that have to vent, or get the steam off in order to feel better. I am certainly not that type. I hold whatever I can, and maybe explode in one of those rare occasions, which, I have not encountered many so far in my life.

Last flight out to Frankfurt, I started to read another book (finally). More to that maybe in the next one. But I have let this post sit for quite a while and I am not in the exact mood anymore to continue writing. All that I remember is that my bosses were leaving, and I need to reconsider how my near future is gonna continue. And at the time of writing, I just want to finish my 2 weird projects …

Bosnia Summer “School Trip”

As weird as it sounds, in the mid of August, 15 of us went to Bosnia, which in essence, really felt like a school trip. Somehow 15 people gathered together, mainly people that know each other from CS, with their friends, +1s.

I don’t even remember how this idea initially came into existence. The first we remembered, was that Melina created the website with detailed itineraries and everyone was onboard. We organized a minivan in the end with a dedicated driver, that drove us from Zagreb via Plitvice, through Northwest of Bosnia, to Sarajevo, stopping at Mostar and down to Dubrovnik. (For reference: melakapkovic.wixsite.com/bosniatrip)

Somehow in this past short 2 years, we got close together as a group, big credit to Billy actually who moved to Helsinki. Some of us helped each other in difficult times, enjoyed the good times, what else do you want more?

Bosnia itself really is a hidden gem. Not many tourists, beautiful landscape and scenery. They have water and mountain just like in Switzerland. When we did the rafting tour in Melina’s hometown, there were only another boat on the river, 1 hour separated from us. (if we didn’t count the arabic group towards the very end)

Sarajevo was actually the most interesting spot. For people like who spent the 90’s in China, has no idea about the war happening in Balkan. With many refugees in Switzerland from that area, it now starts to make sense to me. According to the museum, after the dismantling of Ex-Yugoslavia, several nations came into existence. Serbia, with Milosevic, was on the nationalistic mission to expand their territory. And so war began … . This was also why Tarik’s family fled. He was 5 back then. Billy and Dat are from Laos and Vietnam, but they are second generation who never experienced the hard times. Tarik actually talked about what happened back then. Even though as a child, he does not remember much, the only thing that he knew that he was constantly on the move. And apparently, he would have been on a bus which was scheduled to go to Srebrenica. He was also standing in line to get a cookie from UN. When it was his turn, they told him 6 was too old to receive the cookie, it was only meant for kids under 5.

Srebrenica was the place where invaders committed genocide killing many by digging holes and buried them alive. Numbers are around 9000. The museum in the gallery showed us pictures and told the story about the people back then. It was heartbreaking. All over the world, all the time, same things happen, In NanJing, in Phnom Penh, in Auschwitz and in many other places for sure as well, all just because of the huge empty ego that some people need to fill up. Well, what can you do … . I remember someone like the sentence, don’t hate the players, hate the game. But isn’t the game exactly shaped in the way because of all the people? Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on you. All the tic tac toe, ending in the endless cycle of hatred, revenge and (sorry for using this buddhistic word, can’t think of a better one as of now) suffering. Not that I have transcended or something, but wouldn’t it be nice to play a fair game from time to time. (ah this brings us back to the other topic again about game theory, I will stop here)

So I really enjoyed the time in Balkan. Next year, they requested to go to China. Well, why not, it will be a good time. Don’t be so selfish. Melina has set the bar quite high, let’s what I am able to do hahaha.

Now, things seem to start to get busy again. It is so difficult to be rational and use your gut feeling at the same time. So much conflict …

Three Hundred Sixty-Five

The past 2 months have been keeping busy. I just finished my CISSP today (at the time of writing) and luckily, even though this was the exam I was the most unsure one so far in my life (because the answers are all so grey, unlike the scientific ones where there black and white are so clear), I managed to get myself through. So one less problem to worry about. In the end, I am really happy about this one because this was one of the few things that I actually wanted to accomplish.

2 more weeks (actually only one left now) and I am finally able to get on the plane for a 3-week vacation to leave the work a bit behind. Even though these 2 weeks won’t be easy … The Young Leadership Board will have a meeting with Partners in Hamburg next Tuesday, let’s see how this one will turn out. We have been again adhoc-ly investigating some people related issues, why people tend to be unhappy and so on. But this is a topic for itself, maybe more to it later.

I am writing this actually just to recap on what has happened in the past year since I got back from the what I called “Brief interlude” and started my new job. Even at the beginning of my travel, I was feeling kind of OK already to be focusing on other things. Mentally, I was not thinking too much about what has happened. Although recently, I have been having some flashbacks. Some fictive conversations flow into my head. I have not been super motivated for work, so I was also not controlling my thoughts with meditation or whatever to avoid them. I kind of just drifted along sometimes.

In this year, I got to know a lot more new people. Also given that the consulting environment is ever changing with people coming, people leaving, I got used to observe people having short round of introductions, summarizing what they do, what they claim they excel at, and what they really want to. Now I remember the blockchain guy that really wanted to do something in that regard when he joined. Now, exactly after one year, he is moving to a new job at UBS to do “blockchain whatever”. All those people, who do not really understood what is underneath and tries to do something cool, is what bugs me about in this business. I don’t want to claim that I understand much myself, but if you fail to explain to me the simplest questions, then, I really just want to keep my distance. There was also this narcissistic lady, who is 40+ years old. My boss took her over when she switched from PwC because she was feeling bad that lady N only joined the company for a few weeks and now she is leaving her alone. Lady N is someone who is super defensive and does not have the social competency at all. Once if she sees something going against her, she is trying to use any means to fight you, even though maybe, the problem is originating from her. It could be small things like someone being a bit loud in the project area, it could even be that the window is opened for too long and she is feeling cold. Or it might be that she is not able to filter the excel columns based on color. In the end, all the faults are with other people and she is the only one in the room who is behaving correctly, with best intend. Also, she does not know any boundary with other people, but when you scratch on the surface of her boundary a tiny little bit (as in the case of someone being a bit loud in the project area), she will push you back. She is someone who is twisting the reality towards her own “benefit”. Using the word benefit maybe not even correct here, but you get the idea. She reminds me of the movie Memento every single time. To certain extend it is really sad to see her helplessly running around, nobody even closely likes her. And it will be blamed upon use for sure, that is no doubt, but at this stage, I really do not care anymore. As with all, it will hurt us more when we try to help.

Usually, I try to see the good sides in people (And now that I am re-reading it, I realized I have not mentioned some of the awesome people I met at all). Maybe it is possible to neglect other parts so that you can genuinely like one person. Lately, it tends to get more and more difficult … Which actually brings me back to the people topic in the company. When you want to go higher up in ranks, becoming a manager and so on, what is the difference that you are gonna make? I really do like the idea of coaching people, or even lead in a project by example. As a responsible person/manager/lead, you should stand firmly there to protect others. You can guide the direction, and give other people the stability or the safe feeling that maybe needed for their comfort. I am really glad that I found my current boss who is exactly like that and this is also what makes feel easy to maybe even work those rare extra hours. And strangely, I always tend to see some messages while doing other stuff, now I was just rewatching some Naruto, and read “When one does not give up, there is always salvation.” And this is exactly why I despise the people who do not act to get themselves out of the hole (and sometimes they even expect other people to get them out, blame for others not wanting to help them), and this is also why I like people such as HD that they try their best to go through their lives. This is also the main motivation why I wanted to read the book that I am reading now …

Some time last week, in the midst of all the stress, I was also feeling a bit lost, in the big direction. And I ask myself what I do all this for? In the end, where do I wanna be in 5 years? (This was the question that is mocked by many people during HR interviews, but really, it is not a bad thing to think about it) I think I will have the next 3 weeks to think about this and plan ahead again.

I think I should start to move this page to a less prominent place. I need to consider this phase now as concluded. I do like the idea of keep posting some things from time to time, in a way to keep think about different things. Also reading a bit from time to time is also not a bad idea. The last one is really a bit pain to finish, given all those different things going on …

Also now that I am a “Certified profession”, I really need to fix my home network …

The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind

Last weeks have been an avalanche of all the things that I have been doing in January in combination with work. Young Leadership crap, weekend get-aways (Graz, Freiburg, Colmar, Hamburg, Bilbao), CISSP, project in Allschwil with a daily 4 hour round-trip traveling time … now things are starting to slow down a bit (a lot) or maybe also my motivation (or my panic) is fading.

Nevertheless, one good thing when travelling is that you can really sit down and read. I don’t have a habit to read at home, but sitting in a train or a plane gives you the right setup (no options for distractions) to swipe your kindle or open the bookmarked page on a book. I finished the titled book after maybe 2 months. I can’t exactly remember what the exact trigger was for this book (I believe it was the Brexit topic, US selection and something else) and I looked up mass psychology, interested in how the manipulation of the crowd occurs and how people behave as a group.

The book is from 1895 and available on project Gutenberg as a free resource. On reddit, people deemed it as a primer on mass psychology and indeed, some conclusions do still apply today. However, the book is written in a qualitative fashion, where a lot of conclusions are drawn. Examples are given sometimes, but in a descriptive fashion without experiments to test the established hypothesis. This gives me a hard time to convince myself that the theories are really true. In the end, the only thing that helps me is to compare them with my own experience/observations.

The summary that I can give now, based on my fast fading memory, is based on the passages that I highlighted. Also looking back at them remembers me a lot of things that I already forgot. Also, compare to what other people on the internet have drawn out of the book, was interesting as well. So, below are the (a lot) passages, where comments have only been given on a few:

  • “A sentiment of invincible power which allows him to yield to instincts which, had he been alone, he would perforce have kept under restraint. […] A crowd being anonymous, and in consequence irresponsible, the sentiment of responsibility which always controls individuals disappears entirely.” {Responsibility … this is a topic that has caught a lot of my thought. I really don’t sympathize with people that do not act to be responsible themselves … but again, how do you define responsibility? }
  • “In a crowd every sentiment and act is contagious, and contagious to such a degree that an individual readily sacrifices his personal interest to the collective interest” {difficult to say … within a crowd, watching a football game, or play the danish clapping cheered by a crowd, I do not feel that I am getting infected, strong emotions make me a bit nervous to be honest. Also, seeing people chasing or rushing does not affect me at all, I mostly think how stupid it is …}
  • “The conscious personality has entirely vanished; will and discernment are lost. All feelings and thoughts are bent in the direction determined by the hypnotiser.”
  • “The crowd is always intellectually inferior to the isolated individual, but that, from the point of view of feelings and of the acts these feelings provoke, the crowd may, according to circumstances, he better or worse than the individual.”
  • “The Sentiments and Morality of Crowds:
    • Impulsiveness, Mobility and Irritability of Crowds
      • The notion of impossibility disappears for the individual in a crowd. An isolated individual knows well enough that alone he cannot set fire to a palace or loot a shop, and should he be tempted to do so, he will easily resist the temptation. Making part of a crowd, he is conscious of the power given him by number, and it is sufficient to suggest to him ideas of murder or pillage for him to yield immediately to temptation.
      • Collective observations are as erroneous as possible, and that most often they merely represent the illusion of an individual who, by a process of contagion, has suggestioned his fellows.
    • Crowds are credulous and readily influenced by suggestion
    • The exaggeration and ingenuousness of the sentiments of Crowds
      • Whether the feelings exhibited by a crowd be good or bad, they present the double character of being very simple and very exaggerated.
      • Given to exaggeration in its feelings, a crowd is only impressed by excessive sentiments. An orator wishing to move a crowd must make an abusive use of violent affirmations. To exaggerate, to affirm, to resort to repetitions, and never to attempt to prove anything by reasoning are methods of argument well known to speakers at public meetings.
    • The intolerance, dictatorialness, and conservatism of Crowds
      • Every one is aware of the intolerance that accompanies religious beliefs, and of the despotic empire they exercise on men’s minds.
      • Crowds exhibit a docile respect for force, and are but slightly impressed by kindness, which for them is scarcely other than a form of weakness. Their sympathies have never been bestowed on easy-going masters, but on tyrants who vigorously oppressed them.
    • The Morality of Crowds
      • Taking the word “morality” to mean constant respect for certain social conventions and the permanent repression of selfish impulses, it is quite evident that crowds are too impulsive and too mobile to be moral.”
  • “The Ideas of the Crowd: Whatever be the ideas suggested to crowds they can only exercise effective influence on condition that they assume a very absolute, uncompromising and simple shape. They present themselves then in the guise of images and are only accessible to the masses under this form. […] A long time is necessary for ideas to establish themselves in the minds of crowds, but just as long a time is needed for them to be eradicated. “
  • “The Reasoning Power of Crowds: Between the ideas associated by crowds there are only apparent bonds of analogy or succession. […] Knowing from experience that ice, a transparent body, melts in the mouth, concludes that glass, also a transparent body, should melt in the mouth. “
  • “The Imagination of Crowds: Crowds being only capable of thinking in images are only to be impressed by images. It is only images that terrify or attract them and become motives of action. […] For this reason theatrical representations, in which the image is shown in its most clearly visible shape, always have an enormous influence on crowds.”
  • “Intolerance and fanaticism are the necessary accompaniments of the religious sentiments. They are inevitably displayed by those who believe themselves in the possession of the secret of earthly or eternal happiness.”
  • “The primary danger of this system of education – very properly qualified as Latin – consists in the fact that it is based on the fundamental psychological error that the intelligence is developed by the learning by heart of text-books. Adopting this view, the endeavour has been made to enforce a knowledge of as many hand-books as possible. From the primary school till he leaves the university a young man does nothing but acquire books by heart without his judgement or personal initiative being ever called into play. Education consists for him in reciting by heart and obeying.” {a very up-to-date topic indeed}
  • “The power of words is bound up with the images they evoke, and is quite independent of their real significance. Words whose sense is the most ill-defined are sometimes those that possess the most influence. Such, for example, are the terms democracy, socialism, equality, liberty, &c., whose meaning is so vague that bulky volumes do not suffice to precisely fix it. Yet it is certain that a truly magical power is attached to those short syllables, as if they contained the solution of all problems. “
  • “To give to men that portion of hope and illusion without which they cannot live, such is the reason for the existence of gods, heroes and poets. During 50 years science appeared to undertake this task. But science has been compromised in hearts hungering after the ideal, because it does not dare to be lavish enough of promises, because it cannot lie.” {Science cannot lie? Aren’t there more and more “falsified” statistics out there? So many contexts and boundary conditions omitted, solely to present everything in a better light?}
  • “Notwithstanding all its progress, philosophy has been unable as yet to offer the masses any ideal that can charm them; but, as they must have their illusions at all cost, they turn instinctively, as the insect seeks the light, to the rhetoricians who accord them what they want.”
  • “Experience constitutes almost the only effective process by which a truth may be solidly established in the mind of the masses and illusions grown too dangerous be destroyed. […] However, it is necessary that the experience should take place on a very large scale and be very frequently repeated. The experiences undergone by one generation are useless, as a rule, for the generation that follows, which is the reason why historical facts, cited with a view to demonstration, serve no purpose.”
  • “It is necessary first of all to thoroughly comprehend the sentiments by which they are animated, to pretend to share these sentiments, then to endeavour to modify them by calling up, by means of rudimentary associations, certain eminently suggestive notions, to be capable, if need be, of going back to the point of view from which a start was made, and, above all, to divine from instant to instant the sentiments to which one’s discourse is giving birth. “
  • “The leader has most often started as one of the led. He has himself been hypnotised by the idea, whose apostle he has since become. It has taken possession of him to such a degree that everything outside it vanishes, and that every contrary opinion appears to him an error or a superstition. […] The leaders we speak of are more frequently men of action than thinkers. They are not gifted with keen foresight, nor could they be, as this quality generally conduces to doubt and inactivity. They are especially recruited from the ranks of the morbidly nervous, excitable, half-deranged persons who are bordering on madness. However absurd may be the idea they uphold or the goal they pursue, their convictions are so strong that all reasoning is lost upon them. “
  • “As soon as a man ceases to be isolated he speedily falls under the influence of a leader. The majority of men, especially among the masses, do not possess clear and reasoned ideas on any subject whatever outside their own specialty. The leader serves them as guide. It is just possible that he may be replaced, though very inefficiently, by the periodical publications which manufacture opinions for their readers and supply them with ready-made phrases which dispense them of the trouble of reasoning.”
  • “Those ringleaders and agitators may be divided into two clearly defined classes. The one includes the men who are energetic and possess, but only intermittently much strength of will, the other the men, far rarer than the preceding, whose strength of will is enduring. “
  • “Whether they be intelligent or narrow-minded is of no importance: the world belongs to them. The persistent will-force they possess is an immensely rare and immensely powerful faculty to which everything yields. What a strong and continuous will is capable of is not always properly appreciated. Nothing resists it; neither nature, gods, nor man.”
  • “Affirmation pure and simple, kept free of all reasoning and all proof, is one of the surest means of making an idea enter the mind of crowds. The conciser an affirmation is, the more destitute of every appearance of proof and demonstrations, the more weight it carries. The religious books and the legal codes of all ages have always resorted to simple affirmation. […] the thing affirmed comes by repetition to fix itself in the mind in such a way that it is accepted in the end as a demonstrated truth.”
  • “In the case of men collected in a crowd all emotions are very rapidly contagious, which explains the suddenness of panics.”
  • “Imitation, to which so much influence is attributed in social phenomena, is in reality a mere effect of contagion. […] Man, like animals, has a natural tendency to imitation. Imitation is a necessity for him, provided always that the imitation is quite easy. It is this necessity that makes the influence of what is called fashion so powerful. Whether in the matter of opinions, ideas, literary manifestations, or merely of dress, how many persons are bold enough to run counter to the fashion? it is by examples not by arguments that crowds are guided.”
  • “Contagion is so powerful that it forces upon individuals not only certain opinions, but certain modes of feelings as well.”
  • “Prestige in reality is a sort of domination exercised on our mind by an individual, a work, or an idea. This domination entirely paralyses our critical faculty, and fills our soul with astonishment and respect. […] Acquired prestige and is that resulting form name, fortune, and reputation. It may independent of personal prestige. Personal prestige, on the contrary, is something essentially peculiar to the individual.” {Watch the film <The Prestige>, it is exactly on this maniac topic of pursuing it. And so well played as well. }
  • “The popularity of these opinions is independent of the measure of truth or error they contain, and is solely regulated by their prestige. “
  • “The only real tyrants that humanity has known have always been the memories of its dead or the illusions it has forged itself. “
  • “The only important classification to be made of heterogeneous crowds, apart from that based on racial considerations, is to separate them into anonymous crowds, such as street crowds, and crowds not anonymous – deliberative assemblies and juries, for example. The sentiment of responsibility absent from crowds of the first description and developed in those of the second often gives a very different tendency to their respective acts. “
  • “Let us examine by what methods electoral crowds are to be persuaded. It will be easy to deduce their psychology from the methods that are most successful. It is of primary importance that the candidate should possess prestige. Personal prestige can only be replaced by that resulting from wealth. Talent and even genius are not elements of success of serious importance. “
  • “The reason why the electors, of whom a majority are working men or peasants, so rarely choose a man from their own ranks to represent them is that such a person enjoys no prestige among them. “
  • “It does not follow because an individual knows Greek or mathematics, is an architect, a veterinary surgeon, a doctor, or a barrister, that he is endowed with a special intelligence of social questions. […] their science is only a very attenuated form of our universal ignorance.
  • “Race and the slavery of our daily necessities are the mysterious master-causes that rule our destiny.”
  • “In consequence parliaments are more especially representative of extreme opinions. […] quote: during the fifty years that I have sat at Westminster, I have listened to thousands of speeches; but few of them have changed my opinion, not one of them has changed my vote.”
  • “It will always be easy to make a crowd accept general assertions, presented in striking terms, although they have never been verified, and are perhaps not susceptible of verification.”
  • “It is all to the interest of the leaders to indulge in the most improbable exaggerations. The speaker of whom I have just cited a sentence was able to affirm, without arousing violent protestations, that bankers and priests had subsidized the throwers of bombs, and that the directors of the great financial companies deserve the same punishment as anarchists. Affirmations of this kind are always effective with crowds. The affirmations is never too violent, the declamation never too threatening.”

And another point that I remember was regarding Democracy. Even though that the crowd (the voters) are not as intelligent as the individual, the draft of the vote or law serves a baseline of “defense/protection” against stupidity. (Who are we to define what is stupid anyway?)

So much on this one, in the end, the Young Leadership Board in the company actually gives me somethings to think about as well. In consulting, people management is apparently really bad. Partners know it, but they don’t know how to solve it. Is it because of the very nature of the business that many projects are aligned on the last minute? Or is it really because of the sheer inability of organization and communication? Or is it because the client wishes for so many things and changes ideas always in the last minute, as many of us do ourselves? Maybe this is the next question to be looked at. My current client is actually also recommending some books for me. I have ordered “conspiracies of conspiracies”, let’s see how the Trump election and Brexit actually shaped up, based on the theories of the book.

Me, sitting in the office, finishing up this post …

The ill-titled Pursuit of Happiness

I guess many people have seen the movie „Pursuit of Happiness“ with Will Smith. I was on a similar task last weekend in Utrecht. Nothing noble compared to the film itself, I was chasing the music that I love, with some twist. I thought it is worthwhile noting down because I have explored a bit more of the boundary or limit of my own happiness. Maybe you can guess now where the illness comes from — it involved trying out chemical substances.

I remember it was 13 years ago when my friend showed me some electronic music on his orange Sony Ericsson. The same friend with whom I was going to Utrecht with. Some time later, I discovered „A State of Trance“ (ASOT) on the internet, hosted by the Dutch DJ Armin van Buuren. Ever after I having been listening to similar kind of music called Trance. The rhythmic basslines gives me the grooves and the energetic supersaw lead sound with beautiful melodies, whether an arp or a simple chord progression, lifts you a little higher, amplifies the happiness and simply puts a smile on my face. I am in general a happy person, I would say, and I have heard others, but with the music, it goes up a notch. Feeling happy is the best thing and last year before my world trip, it was not easy to find it back again. And last weekend, the ASOT Radio Show was celebrating the 900th episode, 18 years of airing. Meanwhile my taste has shifted slightly and the one DJ that I wanted to see – Above and Beyond – was playing. So I decided to go check them out. It was also easier to convince my friend since it is a big festival with 35k people.

Trance itself has accompanied me for more than 12 years, a journey of itself. I listened to radio shows first, became obsessed with a few tracks (for example, Dash Berlin – Till the sky falls down), started to cut them out of the episodes since the tracks are usually not released. Some years later, the show started to turn mainstream. I was not very happy about the track selection, so I started to listen to all the so called 0-day releases and to put together my own set to “express” how I would feel. I have burned them onto CDs and listen to them when I rarely go out with the car (of my parents). Then I started to find some tracks, starting nice, ending rather far away from my taste. The next thing you could do is to try to create your own interpretation – e.g. remix. This is a more complicated process and I maybe got a little better after 6,7 tracks, while watch youtube tutorials. Till today, I would still listen back to some of them. Even though they suck ass, some of the ideas still remain there and the emotions can still quite vividly appear in front of my eyes. The creation of those remixes were one of the (maybe few) moments so far where I actually felt having dived into the whole process without thinking about anything else. Where maybe sleep or food were even forgotten. Maybe this is what passion is / was?

I can’t recall what triggered me into wanting to try out some new chemical stuff. Maybe the thought has intrigued me seeing those ecstasy named pills giving people the urge to take it to reach a state of happiness. Maybe I was curious what kind of happiness that is. Is it a different kind of happiness? Some people get addicted, will I fall into that hole? After some research and listening to my friend, MDMA seems rather safe and the risk of addiction is low. People say you get into a happier state for 3—6 hours but after that you might have trouble falling asleep or the next day you would feel down. Your body has produced so much “happiness chemical” (the substance basically lets the body release more serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) in that time frame so that the next day, your perceptions will need to adopt to the normal level again.

My friend was all pumped up that night since he hasn’t taken one since more than a year and he was assuring me it is the best thing ever. I was nervous thinking about what could happen and what if I took too much since I am rather lightweight compared to the 190cm and 90kg across my desk. After hesitating for 10 minutes, I swallowed 1/5 of that purple pill with Don Perignon inscribed on it and hit the road to the concert hall.

After 45min, shortly before the entrance, the effect kicked in. I was feeling suddenly a bit dizzy, almost like the tipsy dizzy, but all was still clear, with my eyes wide open. My sight perception changed a bit with more concentration in the middle of the viewfield. All around it seemed a bit blurred, like a fish eye perspective. But was I feeling happier than usual? Not really. I was at the same show 3 years ago, and another time 2010. I felt the same. I saw Dash Berlin, Andrew Rayel in Zurich, Armin after Street Parade. Sometimes I was even happier. I was feeling awake, but definitely not more happy.

The music is awesome, and unlike alcohol, the initial dizziness has faded. Under the influence of alcohol, things are rather a bit more “träge”, but now, things are clearer than ever. With the usual work schedule, I would feel tired, but no trace of any or that. Then the effect faded after 4 hours, you can feel the tiredness immediately. Well, Above and Beyond was everything I expected it to be. And the happiness comes from the music and not from the pill itself. And it is a familiar feeling that I used to have when I listen to the trance tracks that I love. Maybe during the normal everyday life, you tend to hold back a little and not go crazy in the train.

The second day, when I woke up, I was nervously checking how I felt. I was not down at all. I felt actually better than a night out with a lot of alcohol. Was I “unhappy”? not at all either. I could clearly remember that aspiring music the night before. After that check, somehow I felt even happier, more relieved that my own happiness is coming from within. Or actually not within, but with what I like, and not a artificially induced reaction (going back to the philosophical discussion of what is right or wrong, the facts are actually the same, but the triggers are different), but I hope you know what I mean. And combined with the fact that the pill did not make me feel happier than before or feel another happiness that I did not experience, I really appreciated that I tried it out. Now, I do know that there is nothing (maybe this is too absolute) that can make me feel happier than I felt before. At least, the happiness that I felt are the real happiness and the chemical reactions that was happening was stronger than the artificial effect of produced substances. When you know that the feeling you perceived were the best ones that you will ever get, that gives you also the kind of assurance that, you do know what actually makes you happy, is the real thing, like listening to what you love to, to feel appreciated by others and to see the ones that you like.

Introduction to Philosophy

Before I went on to travel last year, I brought a book along, called “Tetralogue”. I found it on the reading list on the reddit’s philosophy channel. I guess after all what have happened, I was pushing myself to think about things more.

I finished reading that book in Myanmar. Even though it gave me a bit of different perspectives of philosophical theories in form of conversation between 4 people, it was difficult to grasp what these core principles are. So one year later, with similar motivation, I digged a bit more and found this course on Coursera.org from University of Edinburgh, called Introduction to Philosophy.

The lecture gave a very good introduction by defining what philosophy actually is. It is the activity of thinking of how things are done, which fulfills my original goal of thinking more.

The next chapters are some theories, but mostly, all contents stem from very simple questions and by thinking it through yourself, you understand your own perspective a bit better, and you get to see other people’s perspectives. It also uncovers the downsides of different theories.

So I am just gonna list the key questions here with the key areas of theories, just as fruit for thought. I have put a few things in italic which appeal to me more than others.

  • What is Philosophy – the activity of working out the best way to think about things
  • Morality: Objective, Relative or Emotive? – There is always right or wrong vs. context driven vs. emotional reactions – so “Tetralogue” was moving probably in this area.
  • What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any? – Propositional knowledge vs. ability knowledge (Know-how). Gettier problem to highlight belief vs. truth. Radical scepticism – we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.
  • Do We Have an Obligation to Obey the Law? – Comply vs. Obey, Consent vs. Gratitude vs. Benefit vs. Fairness.
  • Should You Believe What You Hear? Evidentialism vs. We are hardwired to trust people’s testimony vs. Think for yourself – intellectual autonomy that leads to knowledge / wisdom (being able to explain)
  • Minds, Brains and Computers – mind is immaterial vs. mental type / token (chemical) vs. function of mental state (what they do?) . Turing vs. Chinese Room on syntactic and semantic.
  • Do We Have Free Will and Does It Matter? Determinism, Liberalism, Compatibilism (which gave the purpose of being responsible for being able to making decisions)

Coming back, maybe I am thinking too much? Some people say you should enjoy life and don’t overthink. Where is the fine line of overthinking and thinking and reflecting on what you did wrong and what is the right way to do things? I remember reading somewhere that enjoy the moment is also not being responsible for your future?

I guess, thinking based on rather unrealistic guessing and assumptions is going too far. While daydreaming is a nice thing that might make me happier, thinking about unrealistic scenarios which drive into a corner thinking that everything is going to be shit.

Hence, Again, Balance.

Think but also meditate to kill overthinking.