broken mirror

A shattered mirror

Most of our thinking happens intuitively. Intuition works fast so it is sometimes called fast thinking.1 We are not aware of this so you can barely call it thinking. Only when our intuition runs into trouble reason is called into action. Reason is called slow thinking. If you can get away with the judgements coming from your intuition there is no reason to think things through. Evolution made this happen. It is easy to understand why. Humans who took the time to consider all the options when a pride of lions was coming into their direction didn’t survive and procreate so that their genes died out.

Great chess players don’t consider all the options either. Based on past training and experience their intuition presents a few options to the conscious thinking process called reason. Billions of other options are ignored, nearly all of them not worth considering. That’s what makes a great chess player a great chess player. The brain has limited processing capabilities. Clogging it with countless useless options would downgrade its performance.

Computers don’t have an intuition but they have become fast enough to consider so many options, including a lot of useless ones, that they are able to find better moves that chess players can’t think of because their intuition limits them. Nowadays computers beat even the best chess players. But what if intuition fails you more often than happens to most people? In that case you might consider options other people don’t think of. Others may call you crazy or insane. Indeed, most of the options you consider are not worth considering, but you don’t know that until you have found it out yourself. If that applies to you then you may be autistic. If the condition is sufficiently mild you can still lead a normal life, but you need a major amount of reasoning and experimentation to achieve just that.

Let’s explain this using an example. Yuor brian autmotaically corercts speillng erorrs. Probably you were able read the previous sentence without any effort. Otherwise you have to solve the puzzle by trying out different words to see if they make sense. In that case you might find meanings that weren’t intended. If you must figure out social rules in a similar way, for example by trying courses of action and evaluating responses of other people, you’re in for a lot of trouble. Most people make sense of the world intuitively, but if you are autistic, reality appears to you like a 10,000 pieces jig saw puzzle or a shattered mirror. You must fit the pieces together. That takes a lot of time and effort and the pieces hardly ever fit perfectly. What you get is something similar to what other people think of as reality.

Autism nevertheless survived the evolutionary rat race called survival of the fittest. How could this happen? There is a possible explanation. Who can find the answers when intuition fails everyone, for example during a crisis? These situations require trying out ideas other people don’t think of, and quite possibly ignorance with regard to social conventions to pursue these ideas. Perhaps you think of autists as weirdos cracking riddles nobody else can. There is some truth to that image. Some pundits have claimed that Newton and Einstein were autistic. They may have appeared to be geniuses just because they tried options other people didn’t think of. In this way they discovered things other people couldn’t. Autists can keep working on their eccentric projects despite the constant rejection they receive. And some of their efforts turn out to be useful. Perhaps I have fixed the mirror. The pieces seem to fit.

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Daniel Kahneman (2011). Penguin Books.

Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau

Meeting Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau

Despite his bumbling and clumsy appearance, Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau was always able to solve the mystery. Guided by a few hunches and some vague clues that only made sense in his mind, he always ignored the most obvious explanation of the facts. How can a clown like him be correct all the time while the competent fail? The answer is that Jacques Clouseau is a fictional character in a story. The plot was always the same: Jacques Clouseau is right in the end.

The licence plate number on Franz Ferdinand’s car features a reference to 11 November 1918, the end date of World War I. The war comprised of billions of actions of millions of individuals. To make it end on this date requires complete control of every thought and every move of every actor. The world we live in could be fiction. Hence, I may be right about the nature of this universe, the identity of God as well as the future direction of society and the economy, while the greatest minds on Earth can do no better than firing a shot in the dark.

It was the autumn of 1989. My life had just gone off the rails. I had been evicted from a students dormitory for not fitting in the group, which more or less came down to not getting along with a particular lady. I made her cry, or perhaps she cried to make me feel so miserable so that I would leave. And this I did. Henceforth I committed myself to leading an insignificant life so that I would disturb no-one, something even a complete failure like me should be capable to do. But perhaps I grossly underestimated the enormity of the failure as even this modest goal may well be out of reach.

I moved back to my parents’ home to gather some courage to try another dormitory. In the years that followed came the peculiar coincidences suggesting that my business with this particular lady from the dormitory had not finished yet. Some of these incidents were quite disturbing. They were to few in number to make me suspicious, but they were too curious to remain unnoticed.

Back then in the autumn of 1989 there wasn’t much to laugh for me, except for a few episodes of Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau that were aired on German television. My parents lived near the German border so I could see them.

In 2008 it became clear that my business with this lady wasn’t finished yet. In the years that followed I bumbled through the investigation with some vague clues that only made sense in my mind. And that resulted in this plan for the future. If I am right, or when people are going to believe that this might be the case, it would be the result of an array of accidents and failures, or perhaps the plot of the story, but certainly not my genius.

Featured image: Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau [copyright info]

Illustration for the first edition of Utopia

Welcome to Utopia

Until very recently nearly everyone lived in abject poverty. Most people had barely enough food to survive. In 1651 the philosopher Thomas Hobbes depicted the life of man as poor, nasty, brutish, and short.1 Yet, a few centuries later a miracle had happened. Nowadays more people suffer from obesity than from hunger while the life expectancy in the poorest countries exceeds that of the Netherlands in 1750, which was the richest country in the world in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. And we may soon have nuclear fusion providing us with unlimited energy for free. That may be the end of poverty as poverty is basically a lack of access to energy.

In 1516 Thomas More wrote his famous novel about a fictional island named Utopia. Life in Utopia was nearly as good as in the Garden Of Eden. The Utopians worked six hours per day and took whatever they needed. Utopia means nowhere but the name resembles the word eutopia which means a good place. The pun may have been intended. His book inspired a lot of writers and dreamers to think of a better world while leaving the hard work to entrepreneurs, labourers and engineers. Today many of us have more stuff than they need. So why do we work so hard and feel insecure about the future?

The answer lies within the dynamic of capitalism. The capitalist economy must grow. It is not enough that people just work and buy the products they need. They must work harder to buy more otherwise businesses will go bankrupt, investors will lose money, and people will be unemployed and left without income. To forestal this disaster, we are made to believe that buying stuff makes us happy. As Yuval Noah Harari points out in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind2:

To make sure that people will always buy whatever new stuff industry produces, a new kind of ethic appeared: consumerism. Most people throughout history lived under conditions of scarcity. Frugality was thus their watchword. A good person avoided luxuries, never threw food away, and patched up torn trousers instead of buying a new pair.  Consumerism has worked very hard, with the help of popular psychology to convince people that indulgence is good for you, whereas frugality is self-oppression.

In the affluent world of today one of the leading health problems is obesity, which strikes the poor (who stuff themselves with hamburgers and pizzas) even more severely than the rich (who eat organic salads and fruit smoothies). Each year the US population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry people in the rest of the world. Obesity is a double victory for consumerism. Instead of eating little, which will lead to economic contraction, people eat too much and then buy diet products – contributing to economic growth twice over.

Most previous ethical systems presented people with a pretty tough deal. They promised paradise, but only if they cultivated compassion and tolerance, overcame craving and anger, and restrained their selfish interests. This was too tough for most. The history of ethics is a sad tale of wonderful ideals that nobody can live up to. Most Christians did not imitate Christ, most Buddhists failed to follow Buddha, and most Confucians would have caused Confucius a temper tantrum. In contrast, most people today successfully live up to the capitalist-consumerist ideal.

Capitalism brought us prosperity so most of us won’t ask questions like why are there still poor people or are there limits to our desires? It might feel like biting the hand that feeds you. Answers aren’t easy to come by either. Alternatives to capitalism weren’t successful. Perhaps capitalism helped to reduce poverty more than anything else. But the capitalist dynamic of growth appears to be slowly halting. People are going into debt to buy stuff so they can’t buy more in the future.

Before long we may live inside our own make-believe fairy tale virtual realities writing our own life’s stories. In that case we won’t need a lot of real stuff any more. Finally there could be enough for everyone, and perhaps far more than we desire. Machines may do most jobs in the future so most people might become unemployed. That may require a new ethic. In the future there may not be an economy or money but for the time being we may need an economy that can flourish without growth.

Featured image: Illustration for the first edition of Utopia by Thomas More.

1. Leviathan. Thomas Hobbes (1651).
2. A Brief History Of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.

Who is she?

It was the spring of 1989. I was planning to leave my parents’ home to live on the campus of the University of Twente in Enschede. Students on the campus lived in groups. Newcomers had to do an interview before being admitted. I had been turned down several times. This was my seventh interview. A female student asked most of the questions. She seemed to be the boss. She attracted my attention in other ways too. For instance, during the interview she said to me: “You were warned of me during a previous interview.” Then she mentioned the specifics of where it happened and the name of the student warning me. And indeed it had happened that way. Perhaps someone had informed her but still it was odd. I was admitted to the group and moved there on 13 May 1989, a Saturday.

She often said peculiar things. For instance, she repeated the acronym HAFMO like a mantra. These letters were the initials of the first and middle names of Hans van Mierlo, the principal founder of the Dutch political party D66. In 1989 he was again the leader of D66 after being out for a while. He was good-looking and popular with the ladies. D66 was a pragmatic liberal party in favour of referendums. The party played a major role in reforms that made the Netherlands one of the most liberal countries on the planet. There were elections upcoming in September so I guessed she would vote for D66. But this may not have been the reason why she repeated the acronym so many times. D66 as well as Hans van Mierlo have been used in a scheme related to D-Day. She currently lives in the municipality of Geldrop-Mierlo in the Eindhoven area. Indeed, this is strange. And strange was also a word she repeated endlessly.

She was intimidating. It was better that you didn’t stand in her way. She dominated the scene. Once she said that all the women in her vicinity adapted their cycles to hers. This remark may appear delusional but it didn’t feel that way back then. And she occupied herself with cryptograms. These are about the hidden meanings of words. She wanted the living room to be redecorated. And so it was done, like everything else she requested. During the redecoration she made a copy of a Mondriaan painting on the wall.

Painting of Piet Mondriaan
Painting of Piet Mondriaan (1921).

After some time she began to make hateful remarks towards me. She singled me out. It was as if she had moulded the group into her little version of Paradise and that I didn’t fit in. It didn’t take long before I was forced to leave. That was on 13 October 1989, a Friday. She reproached me for being rude and hurting the feelings of others. I was a hapless autist and did not fit in anyway so there wasn’t a reason to suspect a hidden agenda. Yet, over the years a series of peculiar coincidences happened, suggesting that my business with her wasn’t finished yet. Some of these incidents were quite eerie. For a long time I believed them to be just coincidences, that was until the autumn of 2008.

September was turning into October. The financial crisis was getting serious. Things were falling apart. I had anticipated such an event for a long time and believed that interest would the underlying cause of financial collapse. Over the years I had discussed interest-free money on message boards but it was hard to convince other people. Interest-free money seemed an impractical idea. Why would anyone accept interest-free money if you can receive interest elsewhere? There was no solution, at least so it seemed, and usury was about to bring down human civilisation. Already in the year 2000 I bought some gold to cope with such an event. I also stored canned foods in the basement. At the end of September I began to think again about interest-free money.

Then in early October I figured out a solution. If interest were to be banned, investors would seek alternatives like equity. Balance sheets would become less leveraged and financial crises would be a thing from the past. Now comes the stunning discovery… trumpets please… the economy could do better and investors could make better yields. If there is no interest, the money could increase in value. Hence, an interest rate of zero could be positive return that could better the yields on interest-bearing money. In this way interest-free money would be possible, or even inevitable as soon as the knowledge becomes public. When yields on interest-free money are better there will be a capital flight so that interest-bearing money would be finished.  This was a shocking find. It could be the end of usury. I named the idea Natural Money. The basic idea is:

  • There is no interest on money and debts. Business profits are allowed.
  • There is a tax on money of 10% per year. This tax only applies on cash. It doesn’t affect investments and money lent including bank accounts. So if you lend out your money you don’t have to pay the tax so it can be attractive to lend without interest.

The financial crisis could easily turn into a biblical end times event. And I found a fix, or at least I believed I did. To be sure I didn’t invent Natural Money. It has been around for a long time. I only discovered its potential. Soon peculiar coincidences began to pile up. For instance, I woke up at night again and again to see time prompts like 2:22, 3:33, 4:44 and 5:55 time after time. And there was more. Natural Money is named after the Natural Economic Order of Silvio Gesell in which the tax on money was first proposed. Natural Economic Order can be abbreviated to NEO. Neo is the main character in the film The Matrix. The Natural Economic Order was first published in German. The German title of the book is Natürliche Wirtschafts Ordnung and can be abbreviated to NWO. Perhaps these things weren’t just a coincidence. That gave me the uncanny feeling that the discovery could be part of a greater scheme. And so I began to suspect that she had something to do with it.

My suspicions were soon confirmed when I tilted into a psychosis. Lots of remarkable coincidences happened at the same time. I have written a detailed account of these events but for now it suffices to say that it was suggested that she is Eve and that I am Adam and that we were to restore the gardens of Paradise. I don’t have any memory of a previous life. Curiously my wife Ingrid had added curcumin to our foods. Curcumin allegedly improves memory and helps against Alzheimer disease. And suddenly I was ‘remembering’ being Adam. More remarkable coincidences were to follow.

It may have been possible to discard the suggestions if it wasn’t for the coincidences. I just mention a few of them. She now lives in a suburb of Eindhoven. Eindhoven can mean Final Gardens. We might be on a journey from the Garden Of Eden to the final gardens of Paradise. I live in a town named Sneek. It is pronounced like snake and there allegedly was a snake in Paradise. The capital of the Netherlands is Amsterdam, often abbreviated to A’dam. This is even more remarkable if you realise that these references were not intended. If some place is called Eden then the founders probably intended to make the reference. But no-one ever was thinking, “Let’s call this place Sneek so that it sounds like the English word snake,” or “Let’s call this Amsterdam so they can abbreviate it to Adam.” The same applies to Eindhoven.

Natural Money is a very old idea. Stored grain was money in ancient Egypt. A fee was charged to pay for the storage similar to the holding tax of Natural Money. According to the Bible it was Joseph who introduced the grain storage. The Bible and the Quran condemn charging interest. Natural Money is a biblical financial system that might solve a biblical crisis. So could she be God? And does God want Natural Money to become the money of the future? These questions seem legitimate. In the meantime central banks saved us from a financial collapse caused by fraud and usury.

This didn’t solve the underlying problems and probably made them even worse but it bought us some time. The burden of interest bearing debt continues to grow. Fraudulent bankers weren’t punished so they still don’t fear retribution. The next crisis may require a more definitive solution. The psychosis not only suggested that I was the reincarnation of Adam, but also of Adolf Hitler. This was intimidating as it seemed that she could turn me into anything she desired. The time prompt recurrence had already demonstrated that my mind was controlled. Adolf Hitler found interest-free money to be a sound idea despite it being seen as impractical. That was what I was thinking too. It would be pointless to bring up that she was rude and hurt my feelings by making the suggestion.

The psychosis receded and for six months I was figuring out what to do. It seemed better not to ignore what happened. The occurrences suggested that she had a romantic interest in me. I have a wife and a son and have no intention of leaving them. A few years later I emailed her asking whether she had something to do with these events. She denied it and it appeared that she hadn’t any interest in me. That would be fine with me but her name suggests that she was lying, which is one of those peculiar coincidences. Later I found out that she has a husband and three children. There hasn’t been a specific order telling me what to do but it seemed unwise to obstruct any plan there might be.

And so I took the liberty to work on The Plan For The Future. I never told my wife Ingrid about the details of the psychosis. Ingrid didn’t want to know either. Of course she knew of Natural Money and the psychosis, but not about the message it conveyed. And I never told anyone else I knew personally. At first I hoped or perhaps expected to find out that it was all a delusion. When that could not be established, I decided to wait for proof to emerge, for instance Natural Money becoming a success. A lot of people experience a psychosis, see things other people don’t see or hear voices other people don’t hear, and I may just be one of them. Time will tell what comes out of this. And so I continued to live a normal life while working on the research.

The circumstances made it possible to come up with an explanation of our existence that is free of contradictions and aligns with scientific evidence. It can explain why the religions of the God of Abraham became predominant. I don’t know whether or not she really is the current avatar of God. If this universe is a virtual reality then our creators can make it appear anyway they want. There may be a violent controversy if this plan ever achieves any success and I may not survive. And so I began kicking the can down the road. Doing the research was rewarding but the most important reason for me to work on it is that I think this job needs to be done. It is a crazy scheme so it might work.

Feature image: I am as real as you want me to be. Loesje. Loesje.org.

The curse of The Omen

Rumours go that some films have been cursed, for example The Poltergeist, Superman and Rosemary’s Baby. Numerous accidents have been put forward to support claims that these films are jinxed,1 not all are equally convincing. Actually, most of them aren’t persuading at all for accidents can happen by chance. It is questionable to relate these accidents to a film. Still, the curse of The Omen stands out. This story includes some personal experiences. So, what about this curse?

A guy named Danny Harkins noted on Cracked.com: “No film in history has had worse luck than The Omen. Hell, nothing in history has had worse luck than The Omen.”2 The Omen was advertised on bill boards with a 666-logo inside the film’s title and uplifting slogans like “You have been warned, if something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen,” as well as the cheery notice “Good morning, you are one day closer to the end of the world,” and a conclusion stating “Remember, you have been warned.”

You have been warned. In The Omen the wife of the American ambassador to Italy gave birth to a son, who died almost immediately. A priest then convinced the ambassador to replace his son with an orphan without telling his wife. Mysterious events soon started to haunt them. The child turned out to be the Antichrist. The Omen was first released on 6 June 1976 (6/6) in order to make it refer to the number 666 as the last digit of 1976 is also a 6. The length of the film is a peculiar 111 minutes.

This made The Omen a good candidate for a hefty curse. Two months before the filming started the son of lead actor Gregory Peck committed suicide. When Gregory went to the film set of The Omen his plane was hit by lightning. A few weeks later executive producer Mace Neufeld’s flight was also hit by lightning. Producer Harvey Bernhard was just missed by a lightning bolt in Rome. Later, the hotel Mace was staying in was bombed by the IRA.1

A plane hired by the studio to take aerial shots was switched at the last moment by the airline. The people who took the original plane were all killed when it crashed on take off. An animal handler who worked on the film set died two weeks after working on the film when he was eaten alive by a large feline. Accounts differ on whether it was a lion or a tiger.1

Stuntman Alf Joint was badly injured and hospitalised when a stunt went wrong on the set on A Bridge Too Far in Arnhem in the Netherlands, less than a year after The Omen was finished. He was almost killed when he jumped off a building and missed the inflatable safety-bags that were meant to cushion his fall. Joint told that he felt that he had been pushed even though there was nobody near him at the time.1 These accidents aren’t exceptional. They could have happened by chance.

But the following should make you notice. On Friday 13 August 1976 special effects consultant John Richardson was driving through the Netherlands with Liz Moore. Both were working on A Bridge Too Far. They became involved in a car accident that killed Liz Moore. She was decapitated in a scene that is said to have been eerily similar to one of the most gruesome scenes Richardson had designed for The Omen. The story goes that the accident happened near a road sign stating a distance of 66.6 kilometres to the town of Ommen, a name very similar to omen. And it happened on a Friday the thirteenth.1

This caught my attention. There are no road signs in the Netherlands giving distances in fractions of kilometres. Only kilometre markers use fractions. Near Raalte is a junction where the route N348 joins the route N35 towards Ommen and Nijverdal. This location currently corresponds with kilometre marker 66.6 on route N348. A road sign stating the direction towards Ommen is near this wacky kilometre marker. I am familiar with the location because I lived in Nijverdal as a child. It appeared that this junction could have been the crash location. And so I came to investigate the curse.

Route N348 from Arnhem to Ommen
Route N348 from Arnhem to Ommen

In April 2015 I made an inquiry. A journalist from the local newspaper De Stentor helped me. He did some research and he emailed me on 14 April. He had managed to find a former police officer from the area. According to the police officer, the accident indeed took place near Raalte on the route N348, but between Raalte and Deventer at a distance of six kilometres from the current location of the 66.6 kilometre marker. The police officer told the journalist that he still remembered the car crash very well.3

According to the police officer, the accident happened when he was on service. A man and a woman had parked their car on a parking lot alongside the route N348. When they drove away in the direction of Deventer, they entered the wrong lane and collided head-on into an oncoming vehicle driven by a resident of Nijverdal. The view there was somewhat limited because of two gentle curves in the road. The police officer noted that there was no road sign mentioning Ommen near the crash site.3

The woman was killed on the spot. The car was completely destroyed and disposed to fire station. It turned out that the couple were foreigners involved in the production of A Bridge Too Far, the police officer told the newspaper. He suspected that Richardson, who was used to driving on the left side of the road, wasn’t paying attention. The police officer also mentioned that the accident happened during a weekend.3

In a British television programme Richardson said the following: “It was certainly very odd because it happened on Friday the thirteenth,” and “right opposite the point where the accident happened, was an old mile-post with nothing but sixes on it,” and finally “what spooked me even more was when I discovered it was on a road to a place called Ommen.”3 The 66.6 kilometre marker may have been moved after the accident, for example because the route has changed, or Richardson may have misread the 60,6 kilometre marker.

Based on the current location of the marker and the details given by the police officer, another possible scenario is that Richardson was brought to Raalte or a hospital in Zwolle, and crossed the junction of the N348 with the N35. He may have noticed the 66.6 kilometre marker, and immediately after that, a road sign stating the direction towards Ommen. This may have freaked him out to the point that it became part of the legend of the curse. Recollections of an event that happened decades ago are often not accurate, and this applies to the memories of the police officer as well as Richardson.

It is at least remarkable that the 66.6 kilometre marker is now near a road sign stating the direction to Ommen on the same road that was the scene of the car crash. What are the odds for such a feat to occur if the accident had happened on another location? Alan Tyler, who made a documentary about the curse of The Omen noticed that odd things happened when he was working on it. The strangest thing was that he had two different camera crews filming on separate locations but that all the footage showed the same fault. It did not seem satanic to him, but it made him wonder.

When I was compiling my findings after receiving the email from De Stentor, a few curious things happened. Just after reading the email I took a glance at my stock portfolio. Apart from a few mutual funds I owned stocks of three corporations. One of them was Heymans, a constructor. It had a quote of € 13.13. Another position was Macintosh, a retail company. I owned 500 of these and the quote was € 2.626. Hence, the total value was € 1,313. This was strange because the car crash is said to have happened on Friday the 13th. Meanwhile Macintosh is bankrupt while Heymans stock went down 60% after the company ran into trouble.

This may seem a bit of a curse already and it suggests poor stock picking skills from my part. But there was more to come. That evening I had an appointment with a contractor who was coming to make a tender for renovating my bathroom. He cancelled the appointment because his van had broken down earlier that day. He came from Almelo while I live in Sneek. There are two obvious routes from Almelo to Sneek. The first one is via Nijverdal passing the junction of route N348 with route N35. The alternative route is via Ommen.

Another curious finding was that my search for “Ommen 666” in Google produced a link to a website called www.hondentrainingsneek.nl. At first glance this appeared to be a site for dog training in Sneek, but it was a bit fishy. Somehow “Ommen 666” had been inserted into topic titles such as “Dog Training Terry Ommen 66.6km”. The texts on the website were incoherent with a few references to Ommen 66.6 in it. This is noteworthy as I live in Sneek and previously lived in Nijverdal while my enquiry uncovered that Richardson crashed into the car of a resident of Nijverdal.

Featured image: Film poster for The Omen. © 2002 20th Century Fox. [copyright info]

Other image: Route N348 from Arnhem to Ommen. User Michiel1972 (2007). Wikimedia Commons.

1. Curse of The Omen and other Hollywood hexes. Barry Didcock (2012). Scotland Herald. [link]
2. The Insane True Stories Behind 6 Cursed Movies. Danny Harkins (2008). Cracked.com. [link]
2. Email exchange with De Stentor. Bart klein Ikink (2015). Naturalmoney.org. [link]
3. Curse or coincidence?… ‘Conspiro Media’ re-examines the grisly chain of events connected to those involved in the ’70s horror-flick, ‘The Omen’… Matt Sergiou (2014). conspiromedia.wordpress.com. [link]