Saturday, November 22, 2008

messages from banksy

mood: respectful
"people who get up early in the morning cause war, death and famine"

"sometimes i feel so sick at the state of the world i can't even finish my second apple pie"

the greatest crimes in the world are not committed by people breaking the rules but by people following the rules.
it's people who follow orders who drop bombs and massacre villages.
as a precaution to ever committing major acts of evil it is our solemn duty never to do what we're told. this is the only way we can be sure

"it takes a lot of guts to stand up anonymously in a western democracy and call for things no-one else believes in - like peace and justice and freedom"

"we can't do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles; in the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves"

"people who enjoy waving flags don't deserve to have one"

"a lot of people never use their initiative because no-one told them to"

banksy is a british graffiti artist. he has reached international fame notably for stunts like:
  • hanging a picture he painted (depicting mona lisa with a yellow smiley face) in the louvre
  • or painting images on the israeli west bank wall showing, for instance, a girl being blown away by holding on to flying balloons
  • or spraying "this is not a photo opportunity" on certain well-known photograph spots around the world
  • or painting official looking signs on white walls reading "this wall is a designated graffiti area" and documenting the progress of tags and graffitis being created there by other street artists.
hollywood celebrities have purchased his art and one piece was auctioned for over half a million usd in 2007. he responded to a sotheby’s sale of his work by posting a painting on his website featuring people bidding for a picture, with the caption "i can't believe you morons actually buy this shit."

his view of life is anti-authoritarian, anti-war, anti-consumerist and anti-establishment, using very strong imagery for his pictures. his messages are often ironic, cynical, very to the point and critical comments on the current zeitgeist.

his true identity is unknown...

sources: webpage, wikipedia, wall and piece.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

quotes of the day...

mood: bewilderment
sometimes, psychology (wishful thinking, denial, cognitive bias, blind spots, ideology, ...) is stronger than intelligence.

alan greenspan's comments on the financial/economic crisis:

I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

That's precisely the reason I was shocked because I was going for forty years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.

those of us who have looked to the self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders equity, myself especially, are in a state of shocked disbelief.


Friday, October 17, 2008

the worst of two worlds

mood: disgusted
reading the daily news can at times be quite a depressing experience. psychological protective mechanisms maintaining the mind's sanity can vary from cynicism over callousness to denial, etc. and so most news events don't cause any lasting effects...

apart from "normal" global tragedies as war, genocide, poverty, famine, opression, species extinction, catastrophic climate change events, etc. and the current ludicrous financial and economic crisis, in the last years the cannibalistic activities of Armin Meiwes and the horrific ordeals of Natascha Kampusch and Elisabeth Fritzl have been particularly shocking.

today the list can be extended by another unfathomable abomination. the titles of the articles read:
From the content:

A link between terrorism plots and hardcore child pornography is becoming clear after a string of police raids in Britain and across the Continent.

During a crackdown on the mosque, police were astonished to discover pornography on computer hard drives. But what was not reported then was that the haul included images of children being sexually abused that were encoded with messages as a clandestine method of communication.

on the one hand, there is (in my opinion) the worst acts of destruction sentient beings can perform: systematically abuse the most fragile members of the society for pleasure. contaminate the cradle of future generations. personally i don't understand why there has been no global uproar, as the victims of child abuse become younger and younger and the atrocities worse and worse (some statistics), calling for a coordinated international effort to stop such and related activities (like female genital mutilation, child labour, ...).

and on the other hand, people driven by ideology to kill certain other people with different ideologies are using these unspeakable crimes as a vehicle for their own means of spreading death, destruction and suffering...

deep insights into the abyss of the human soul...


Sunday, July 6, 2008

activism, anarchy and fun

mood: party on

from the 4th to the 6th of july 2008, hundreds of activists from the zurich squatter and left alternative scene occupied the old football stadium hardturm, to celebrate a weekend of fun, partying and anarchy.

after an initial clash with the police on friday evening, the security forces said they would tolerate the event, as long as the stadium is cleared by sunday.

offering such a platform in zurich, being known for it's active party culture, attracted a few thousand party goers by saturday, as the message of the event spread like wildfire...

this has been the third major event of the organizers in the last years, where for a couple of days all effective rules and regulations were suspended, and an alternative subculture asserted itself for a couple of days.

the event was lively reported on by all the swiss mainstream media.

view photos in the brotäktschen set on my flicker account.

visit the "official" website of the organizers:

More info: indymedia, nzz, tagesanzeiger.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

some little things life has taught me...

mood: inspired depending what your personal goals are in life, some strategies work better than others...

you are not the center of the universe

  • be critical towards your cultural and religious imprintings: they could be far from ideal, and simply represent idiosyncratic artifacts from the past
  • don't take yourself too seriously: a little distance to ones own ego can work wonders (and besides, the universe existed for roughly 14 billion years before your birth, and the last discernible structure in it will probably cease to exist after 10 to the power of 23 years after your death)
  • don't expect your perception of reality to be too representative of reality itself (psychopathology, cognitive biases, psychedelic drugs)
  • don't expect your knowledge and understanding of things to give you more than a glimpse of reality: you cannot possibly know and understand everything
  • reality is perhaps more bizarre than anyone ever guessed (non-locality, quantization, measurement, duality, uncertainty, entanglement, time dilation, arrow of time, dark matter and energy, self-organization, emergence, life, death, consciousness, etc. without even mentioning multiverses and possibilities of higher dimensional space and/or time)
  • allow for the possibility, that all your opinions and points of views could be wrong
  • dogmas have never and will never work
  • the best way to appreciate the arbitrariness of your socio-religious background and respect other takes is by traveling

you are the center of your universe

  • take responsibility: don't expect others to think for you
  • learn to accept and respect yourself
  • your mind creates your experience of reality: you have total freedom in your mind
  • you can always choose your inner reactions to impulses from the outer world
  • appreciate the enigma of existence: every day you wake up in a structured and self-organizing reality, and rediscover yourself, a thinking, sentient entity full of memories from the past
  • appreciate the improbability of existence: changing the values of fundamental physical constants just a little would most probably result in unstructured mess
  • everything in the universe expresses the universe

getting into the right state of mind

  • get a sense of humor
  • once in a while, stop and think about how you are living your life, and if it's what you really want
  • happiness is a state of being/mind: your only chance of finding it is within yourself
  • modesty, honesty, sincerity can get you a long way
  • let go: you can't control everything anyway
  • be aware of your own mortality: relax and accept the only thing you can know for sure
  • open your mind to change: conservatism and paranoia about new things doesn't get you far in a universe where everything is constantly changing
  • good/bad or right/wrong are very relative attributes and often in the eye of the beholder
  • there is no absolute evil
  • assume that all people act to the best of their possibilities (even if the outcome of their decisions are disastrous), and that you would be the same, given their biography and neurochemistry
  • relax, kick back and chill out once in a while
  • dream of a better future
  • be the change you want to see in the world
  • don't be ignorant


  • respect other opinions
  • don't take stuff personal
  • it is very easy and rewarding to be nice/helpful/compassionate to other people
  • listen more, talk less
  • respect every aspect of life: from plants, to insects to animals, to human beings of other faith/race/...
  • the strong should protect the weak
  • value friendship
  • don't worry about what others think about you
  • violence is really the very last resort; and mostly, just your inner commitment to defend yourself to the very end, prevents you from having to actually do this


  • have fun
  • resist the temptation to blindly follow the masses: many people doing stupid things isn't a justification for anything
  • limit addictions
  • you don't have to be evil to make money, or be a bastard to get ahead in life
  • a more or less healthy lifestyle helps: a little movement, a somewhat balanced diet, and a (pragmatic) optimistic mindset can work wonders
  • materialism is a bad strategy if you're looking for happiness
  • as already mentioned, go travel
  • the more you spend time getting educated, the better you can approximate the big picture
  • did you know, lifestyles don't necessarily come pre-tailored: you can choose and combine elements from any pop- or subculture you like
  • ever think about ecology and sustainability, i.e., your footprint?
  • ever consider vegetarianism? (update over 7 years later: how about considering veganism? you know, from a sustainability, ethical, and health perspective?)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

the story of stuff...

mood: cynical If you don't happen to be one of the billion people living on 1 US$ a day or less, chances are that you could be one of the billion people living in an industrialized nation.

Then there is one word that describes your identity best: consumer. You live in a consumer nation.

This is the story of stuff, the stuff you consume, told by Annie Leonard, an American scholar (on international trade, development, international sustainability and environmental health issues) who has looked into this stuff for a decade.

It is a simple but enlightening look deep into the heart of our consumer lifestyle: where does stuff come from where does it go?

Watch the 20 minute feature on her website or on youtube (part 1 of 7):

Some fun facts:
  • Food at the top of food chain with highest level toxic contaminants: human breast milk; i.e., human babies are getting the highest dose of toxins on the planet.
  • In the US, 99% of stuff is thrashed in 6 months.
  • Within three decades, one third of all natural resources have been consumed.
  • 75% of global fisheries are fished at or beyond capacity.
  • 80% of the planet's original forests are gone; in the Amazon, 2'000 trees a minute are chopped.
  • There are 100'000 synthetic, i.e., man made chemicals; no tests on synergistic health impacts (i.e., what happens when these substances interact) are done; dioxin the most toxic man made substance known to science.
  • Globally, 200'000 people a day are moving from environments that have sustained them for generations into cities, looking for work.
  • US industry: 4'000'000'000 pounds of toxic chemicals a year.
  • Average US citizen consumes twice as much as 50 years ago.
  • 3'000 ads a day are seen by US citizens; this is more ads seen a year today than 50 years ago in a whole lifetime.
  • Less leisure time today, and this scarce time is mostly used to watch TV and shop.
  • In the US, each household produces twice as much garbage as in the 70s.
  • More stuff owned today than ever, but US national happiness declining since 50s.
  • Industrial design journals from the 50s: how fast can we make stuff break and still leave the consumer to have enough faith in the product to go out and buy another one.
  • The US, with its 5% of world population, consumes 30% of the worlds resources and produces 30% of the worlds waste; this scales up to 3 to 5 planets needed to sustain such a lifestyle if every person on earth would behave in this way.
  • Of the 100 largest economies 51 are corporations.
If you're interested in more such musings, see my other blog post, take the Earth Institute quiz, or, if you understand French or German, Le Monde Diplomatique's Atlas of Globalization.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


mood: adrenalized after work recreation

subculture: electronica

mood: lounging
listen to some electronic sounds

a small compilation:
  • vector lovers
  • sniper mode
  • ils
  • notenshun
  • tiga
  • air
  • christian morgenstern

Friday, April 4, 2008


mood: informativeThis is a blog dedicated to commenting on the zeitgeist.

Critically observing the global social cultures and the prevalent lifestyles, while keeping the context defined by a historical perspective in mind (i.e., the path-dependent arbitrariness of it all), is in my opinion a good starting point for paving the way to a better future.

My other, technical blog (computer science, physics, complex systems, ...) can be found here.

james b. glattfelder, April 2008.