The Virtual Universe

Religions claim that God or gods have created this world. The simulation hypothesis explains how the gods might have done this. We could be living inside a computer simulation run by an advanced humanoid civilisation. But can we know that this is the case? The book The Virtual Universe: Evidence Demonstrating That an Advanced Post-Human Civilisation Has Created Us explores the evidence. A revised simulation argument allows us to establish the most likely purpose of our existence.

The argument works like so:

  1. If this universe is genuine, we cannot be sure it is. A simulation can be realistic and come with authentic laws of reality.
  2. This universe may have fake properties, but we cannot establish that because we do not know the properties of an authentic universe.
  3. Breaching the laws of reality is unrealistic in any case. If it happens, we may have evidence of this universe being virtual.

It follows from (1) and (2) that we cannot use the properties of this universe reflected in the laws of reality to determine whether this universe is real or a simulation. Science may establish the laws of physics or the properties of this universe, but science cannot ascertain whether they are real or fake. But if they are breached, that may be evidence of this universe being a simulation.

We may find out that we live inside a simulation if we notice that reality is not realistic, at least in some aspects. Post-humans could have similar motivations as we have, and they might run simulations of human civilisations for research or entertainment. Research could be about running what-if scenarios. Possible entertainment applications are games or dream worlds in which imaginations come true. Such a simulation may not be realistic in some aspects as it reflects the rules of a game or someone’s imagination.

Simulations of civilisations are complex, so guaranteeing a specific outcome, for instance, someone’s imagination coming true, requires control over everything that happens. That does not apply to games. Unpredictable developments make games more interesting. The number of simulations for entertainment likely vastly outstrip those run for research. If we live inside a simulation, we should expect its purpose to be entertainment.

The owner or owners may use avatars and appear like ordinary human beings to us. If reality is unrealistic in some aspects, that suggests that our purpose is entertainment. A simulation run for research is more likely to be realistic. Evidence of control indicates that the purpose of this simulation is not a game but to realise someone’s imagination.

If beings in the simulation are sentient, that raises ethical questions like whether they have rights that the creators should respect. Considering how humans treat each other, it is not a given that these rights would be respected even when our creators acknowledge them. In a realistic simulation, bad things do happen to people all the time. And in the case of control, the beings inside the simulation are not sentient. We do not think and do not have a will of our own. Hence, we might have no intrinsic value to our creators.

Evidence suggests that the purpose of this simulation is to realise someone’s imagination, which implies the possible existence of a post-human individual we may call God. This comes with the following deduction. Nothing is coincidental. Everything is intended. Even when I am wrong, God made me do this research and draw the conclusions I will set forth in this booklet. Presumably, God can use avatars and appear an ordinary human to us. We cannot know God, but perhaps it is possible to disclose some of God’s avatars.

You can find it here:

What are the odds?

The law of large numbers

On 11 November 2017 (11-11), I went to Groningen with my wife and son. While driving, I noticed the date and time on the clock in the car. The date was 11-11, and the time was 10:35. It made me think, ‘It would be nice to look at the clock at exactly 11:11 today because it is 11-11.’ Then within a second, I noticed the distance recorder standing at 111.1. It had been 111.1 kilometres since I last filled up. Peculiar coincidences can occur by chance. With seven billion people on this planet, and so many things going on, these things happen.

An example can illustrate this. Imagine you have five dice. A remarkable incident is like throwing five sixes. That seems very unlikely. If you throw the five dice only once, it probably does not happen. On average, it only happens once every 7,776 times. But if you throw the dice a million times, you should not be surprised to see it happen 120 to 140 times.

The odds of 111.1 kilometres appearing on the distance recorder is one in 5,000 if there is a reset every 500 kilometres. So once the thought about 11:11 had popped up, the probability of this happening was 0.02%. Considering the odds of it being 11 November, it is 0.00005%. And then I had to look at the distance recorder, but it is next to the clock, so the odds of that happening are pretty high. The likelihood of the thought coming up on 11 November is not so easy to establish, but it is not low in my case.

The birthday problem demonstrates that strange coincidences happen more often than we think. If you happen to share a birthday with another person in a small group, it might strike you as odd, but the chance of someone sharing a birthday with another person is already 50% in a group of 23. But two people sharing a birthday is not a mind-blowing coincidence.

And when you are a member of this group, the probability of you being one of the persons sharing a birthday is much smaller, namely 6%. And if you randomly pick two people, the odds of them sharing a birthday is only 0.3%. Meaningful coincidences are likely to happen but less likely to you. And taking a small sample of events can seriously reduce the likelihood of meaningful coincidences happening. Furthermore, the more elaborate a scheme, the less likely it occurs. The probability of three people sharing a birthday in a group of 23 is 1.3%, and for five, it is only 0.0002%.

Possible avenues to circumvent the law of large numbers

So if some of the most significant events in history come with peculiar coincidences, that might be more telling for two reasons. First, there are only a few of these events, so the law of large numbers does not apply. After all, this is a small sample. If no intelligence is coordinating events in this universe, it is not so likely that meaningful coincidences turned up in this sample, and elaborate schemes are unlikely to occur. Second, if the most significant historical events come with peculiar coincidences, it more plausibly suggests that history is a script than when they happen in someone’s personal life.

To make the argument, you need to answer questions like, what are the most important events, and what are peculiar coincidences? Events such as the sinking of the Titanic or the Kennedy assassination may not qualify, even though the coincidences surrounding them undoubtedly form a strange and elaborate scheme. The beginning and the end of World War I meet the requirements as they are top-tier historical events. The same may be true for D-Day, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.

And what to think of the number of meaningful coincidences in my life? It is not possible to establish how likely it is to happen. But you can make assumptions to get an idea. A highly unusual coincidence like the do-it-yourself store incident could be like throwing five sixes. Hence, the odds of such an event happening in any year in any life could be one in 7,776. If the same happens again, it could be like throwing five sixes twice in a row. The odds of that happening would be one in 60,000,000. On average, 100 people might experience something similar each year. But what if many similar incidents have happened in my life? That makes coincidence less likely.

The number of possible unusual events is infinite, so the odds of something strange such as the do-it-yourself store incident occurring could be higher than we intuitively think. It seems impossible to estimate the odds, but without a script, we should expect these incidents to be distributed more or less evenly across all people and timeframes. So is it at all possible to establish that there is a script? A listing of all the strange coincidences in my life can fill a booklet like this one. Many people have experienced meaningful coincidences from time to time, but few have witnessed so many as I have.

Deviations in the human mind

Deviations from the average are likely to occur. And some might be large. We may think something causes a high or low number while it is just randomness. The psychologist Daniel Kahneman came up with an example. A study of the incidence of kidney cancer in the counties of the United States revealed a remarkable pattern. The incidence of kidney cancer was the lowest in rural, sparsely populated counties in traditionally Republican states in the Midwest, the South, and the West.1 So what do you think of that?

You probably came up with a few reasons why kidney cancer is less likely to occur in these counties, such as a healthy rural lifestyle or low pollution levels. You probably did not think of randomness. Consider then the counties in which the incidence of kidney cancer is the highest. These counties were also rural, sparsely populated, and in traditionally Republican states in the Midwest, the South, and the West.1

The explanation is that those counties all had small populations. And with smaller samples, deviations from the average tend to be larger. Our intuition makes connections of causality, but our reason does not verify whether it could just be randomness. We like to think that some cause makes unusual things happen while they can be random events.

If we use a small sample of the most significant historical events to establish that someone is ‘writing history’, this issue may arise. On the other hand, a comparison with a sparsely populated rural county may not be apt. Perhaps it is better to compare this particular sample to the royal family, for it consists of the most significant historical events. If there is a high incidence of kidney cancer in the royal family, an experienced physician will tell you that randomness is an unlikely cause.

The things that could have happened but did not

In 1913 the ball fell on a black number twenty-six times in a row at the roulette wheel at the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Some people lost a fortune by betting that the ball would fall on red the next time. They did not realise that the odds of the ball falling on a red number never changed. The ball does not remember where it went the previous times. If we represent black with a B and red with an R and assume for the sake of simplicity that there is no zero, we can represent falling twenty-six times on black like this:

B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B

The probability of the ball falling on black twenty-six times in a row is one in 67,108,864. That is a long shot. What might surprise you is that the following combination of black and red numbers is precisely as likely to occur:

R B B R B R R B R B B R R B R R B R B B R R B B R B

You would not be thrilled if that happened unless you became a millionaire by betting on this particular series of twenty-six. And even then, you did not think of the 67,108,863 sequences that did not materialise. We tend to consider only the things that did happen, but we rarely think of all the things that could have happened but did not. That could explain why events such as the ball falling on black twenty-six times in a row impress us. And I am even more impressed because twenty-six happens to be my lucky number.

This argument applies to meaningful coincidences but not to a prediction materialising as such a feat may imply that all the other things could not have happened. Just imagine the probability of you sitting here and now reading this page on a tablet or a mobile phone, but as a prediction from 3,600 years ago. Imagine Joseph telling the Pharaoh: ‘I see (your name comes here) reading a pile of papyrus pages, not real papyrus pages, but papyrus pages appearing on a thing that looks like a clay tablet. Do not be afraid, dear Pharaoh, for it will happen over 3,600 years. But if we do not set up this grain storage, it will not happen, so we must do it. And by the way, Egypt will starve if you ignore my advice.’

The odds for this prediction to come true were not one in 67,108,864, and also not one in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 either. Even if you add many more zeroes to that number, the odds remain much smaller. The probability is so close to zero that no one can tell. Nevertheless, you sit here reading this text, perhaps even on a tablet. So how could this happen? The answer to this mystery is that so many things could have happened but did not, but something had to happen, and that is what happened. In any case, Joseph could not have made such a prediction by accident.

Chaos theory does not allow us to make such exact predictions. Just imagine that another sperm fertilised the egg of Adolf Hitler’s mother. The world would have been a completely different place. And there were millions of sperms out there that day. A precise prediction coming true, if it is not accidentally accurate, might imply that nothing else could have happened other than what happened.

The licence plate number

So what to make of the reference to the end date of World War I on the licence plate on Franz Ferdinand’s car? Few historical events are as important as the start and end of World War I. Hence, the law of large numbers does not apply. And it is one of the most important historical events, so it is part of a sample comparable to a royal family. And so accident seems unlikely. The assassination could have gone wrong, cooler heads could have prevailed, or the war could have proceeded differently to end on another date.

It might have been possible to guess the end date of World War I once it had started. If you presumed that the war would not take longer than twenty years, a random guess of the end date would be correct once in every 7,305 times. But something does not add up here. First of all, no one expected the war to last longer than a few months. And the licence plate originates from before the war. The assassination succeeded after a series of mishaps. So if the licence plate number contained a prediction, it would include a prediction of the assassination succeeding, Franz Ferdinand dying in this particular car, and this event being the trigger for the war.

That is hard to do. And so Mike Dash in the Smithsonian noted, ‘This coincidence is so incredible that I initially suspected that it might be a hoax.’2 And because it is not a hoax, investigative minds could have probed other options, but they did not. Conspiracy theorists also ignored it, even though this incident perfectly agrees with their beliefs.

There is a story about a Freemason named Alfred Pike, who allegedly disclosed a secretive plan of the Freemasons to bring about the New World Order and predicted both world wars with uncanny precision in 1871. Alas, nobody heard of this plan before 1959. Contrary to the licence plate number, this is a hoax. In the Netherlands, they would call it a monkey sandwich story. The licence plate number could have added some credibility to it. But then again, the truth is overrated. Usually, conspiracy theorists do not allow facts to get in the way of their beliefs.

Seeing meaning when there is none

Sceptics claim that AIII 118 is a random sequence of characters, but we see a reference to the end date of World War I. That is how our minds work. The argument is a bit odd. If you follow this reasoning to the extreme, this text is also a random array of characters. And still, you read words and sentences that have meaning to you. Indeed, the licence plate number would have remained unnoticed if the end date of the war had not been 11 November 1918. Only, the war did end on 11 November 1918. And it is the licence plate number of the car in which Franz Ferdinand drove to his appointment with destiny. And this event triggered World War I. That can make it meaningful and predictive. There are many times and locations where this sequence of characters could have turned up so that their appearance on this particular spot could have meaning.

Austrians speak German. Armistice in German is Waffenstillstand. So why does it not read WIII 118, or even better, W1111 1918? But if someone sends you a message, you do not quibble about such details. If I said ‘hello’ to you, you are not going to discuss with me why I did not say ‘hi’ instead. Only a philosopher with a lot of time on his hands might do that. Great Britain, the United States and France were all major participants in the war. These countries all use the word armistice.

It may be better to ask yourself what series of licence plate numbers were available in the Austrian Hungarian Empire at the time? Then you could check which combinations fit the purpose. You may end up with just one match: AIII 118. That makes it harder to believe that this sequence of characters is meaningless. The war ending on 11 November (11-11) adds additional inconceivability to this scheme. In other words, it seems impossible.

Only a few historical events are as important as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the Armistice of 11 November 1918, for instance, D-Day, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and 9/11. The scheme of coincidences surrounding D-Day is even more puzzling. A historian correctly predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, while the coincidences surrounding the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 are intriguing.

Other events of great importance are the American, French, Chinese and Russian revolutions. A few peculiar coincidences relate to the American Revolution and the French Revolution. At best, they are circumstantial evidence for there being a script behind everything that happens. The Independence Day coincidence and the parallels between Napoleon and Hitler are not particularly elaborate.

The Chinese Revolution of 1911 started on 10 October 1911. It ended 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. The date being 10 October (10/10) is not as remarkable as 11 November (11/11), even more so because there are no related coincidences. The Russian Revolution started a communist empire that lasted for seven decades. A bad omen marked the coronation of the last Czar Nicholas II of Russia. The communists later murdered him and his family.

Hindsight bias

With the benefit of hindsight, we can see patterns and meaning, for example, the meaningful coincidences in the most significant historical events. It may be the only way of doing this kind of investigation as we cannot predict the occurrence of meaningful coincidences in advance. If psychic abilities do not exist while there is a script, then premonitions coming true are scripted events. Hence, premonitions may come true more often than mere chance suggests, but you cannot predict when they do.

If this universe is genuine, we probably will not be able to establish that, but perhaps we can discover that it is a simulation. So if there is meaning out there, we have to look for it to find it. A random sample may not produce meaning while it may be there. It is about finding the most plausible explanation. We need to be careful as we are inclined to see meaning in events that could have happened by accident. It is not possible to make exact statements concerning probability, but it is plausible that:

  • The meaningful coincidences surrounding the most important historical events are not mere accidents.
  • The number of meaningful coincidences in my life deviates too far from the average to be the result of chance.

Latest revision: 14 May 2022

1. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Daniel Kahneman (2011). Penguin Books.
2. Curses! Archduke Franz Ferdinand and His Astounding Death Car. Mike Dash (2013). Smithsonian. [link]

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 happened, making some people think these films come with a jinx.1 Not all of them are equally convincing. Accidents happen all the time. They have no relation to a movie, even when several actors of the same cast had bad luck. Still, the curse of The Omen stands out.

Danny Harkins wrote 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 came with billboards featuring a 666-logo inside the title and the uplifting slogan, ‘You have been warned. If something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen.’ And 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.’

In The Omen, the wife of the American ambassador to Italy gave birth to a son. The child died almost immediately. A priest then convinced him 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). The date refers to the number 666 as the last digit of 1976 is also a 6. The length of the film is 111 minutes.

It 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. In the film, he is the father of the child that died. When Peck went to the film set of The Omen, lightning struck his plane. A few weeks later, lightning struck executive producer Mace Neufeld’s flight. A lightning bolt in Rome just missed producer Harvey Bernhard. Later, the IRA bombed the hotel in which Neufeld was staying.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 aeroplane 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 tiger.1

Stuntman Alf Joint was seriously 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 production of The Omen. He jumped off a building and missed the inflatable safety bags meant to cushion his fall. It nearly killed him. Joint said that he felt a push even though nobody was near him at the time.1 Perhaps the combination of these accidents is not exceptional. It might be the result of chance.

But then events took a most peculiar turn. On Friday, 13 August 1976, special effects consultant John Richardson drove through the Netherlands with Liz Moore. Both were working on A Bridge Too Far. They became involved in a car accident that killed Moore. The scene 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 Friday the thirteenth.1

That caught my attention. There are no road signs in the Netherlands giving distances in fractions of kilometres. Only kilometre markers come with these fractions. Near Raalte is a junction where route N348 to Ommen joins Route N35 to Nijverdal. This location corresponds with kilometre marker 66.6 on Route N348. Road signs stating the direction towards Ommen are close to this marker. I am familiar with the area because I lived nearby in Nijverdal as a child. It appeared to me that this junction was the crash location.

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

And so I came to investigate the curse. In 2015 I started an inquiry. A journalist from the local newspaper De Stentor helped me. He did some research and 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 on Route N348 close to Raalte, but between Raalte and Deventer near Heeten, where Route N348 passes the Overmeenweg. This location corresponds with kilometre marker 60.0. The police officer told the journalist he still remembered the car crash very well.3

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

The woman died on the spot. The car was destroyed and disposed to a fire station. It turned out that the couple were foreigners involved in the production of A Bridge Too Far, the police officer told the journalist. He suspected that Richardson, accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, was not paying attention.3

In a British television programme, Richardson said the following, ‘It was certainly very odd because it happened on Friday the thirteenth.’ He then added, ‘Right opposite the point where the accident happened, was an old mile-post with nothing but sixes on it.’ And he also noted, ‘What spooked me even more, was when I discovered it was on a road to a place called Ommen.’ It appears that Richardson has misread kilometre marker 60.0 and has taken the zeroes for sixes. The numbers might have been worn out if it was an old post like Richardson said.

Kilometre marker 96.1 of route A28 in the Netherlands
Kilometre marker 96.1 of route A28 in the Netherlands

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 Route N348 with Route N35. He may have noticed kilometre marker 66.6 there and a sign stating the direction towards Ommen close to it. That may have freaked him out so 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.

Alan Tyler, who made a documentary about the curse of The Omen, noticed odd things happening when he was working on it. The strangest thing was that he had two different camera crews filming in separate locations but all the footage showed the same fault. It is at least remarkable that kilometre marker 66.6 is near a road sign stating the direction to Ommen on the same road that was the scene of the car crash so that I came to investigate the curse, most notably because of what happened next.

When I was compiling my findings after receiving the email from the journalist, a few curious events transpired. 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 came with a quote of € 13.13. Another position was Macintosh, a retail company. I owned 500 of these, and the price was € 2.626. Hence, the total value was € 1,313. It was peculiar because the car crash happened on Friday the thirteenth. Meanwhile, Macintosh is bankrupt, while Heymans stock went down 60% after the company ran into trouble.

That seems a bit of a curse already, and it suggests poor stock-picking skills on my part. But there was more to come. That evening I had an appointment with a contractor who came to make a tender for renovating my bathroom. He came from Almelo while I lived in Sneek. He cancelled because his van had broken down earlier that day. He could take two routes: via Nijverdal crossing Route N348 near kilometre marker 66.6 or the alternative route via Ommen.

Another curious finding was that my search for ‘Ommen 666’ in Google produced a link to the website Hondentrainingsneek.nl. At first glance, it 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.’5 The texts on the website were incoherent, with a few references to Ommen 66.6 in it. It is noteworthy as I currently live in Sneek and previously lived in Nijverdal while my enquiry uncovered that Richardson crashed into the car of a resident of Nijverdal.

A final titbit is that my wife has a heart condition that made her visit the hospital in Sneek around the same time I began investigating the curse. The name of her doctor happens to be Oomen, a name pronounced exactly like omen. She had an operation in 2018 and is still visiting dr. Oomen a few times per year. There certainly is something odd about The Omen, or perhaps this universe, where strange incidents happen.

If you like this post, then you might also like:

History’s oddities

US Presidents Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were both involved in drafting the US Declaration of Independence that was signed on 4 July 1776. Both died on 4 July 1826, fifty years after the Declaration of Independence. There are more of such oddities in history.

Read More

11 September coincidences

What may strike you about the coincidences surrounding 11 September 2001 is that many of them could have happened accidentally but that the combination of these incidents might be too improbable to be just coincidence.

Read More

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]
3. Email exchange with De Stentor. Theplanforthefuture.org. [link]
4. 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]
5. Dog training Terry Ommen 66.6km. Theplanforthefuture.org. [link]

Getting used to strangeness

Eleven is the fool’s number in the Netherlands. On 11 November (11-11) the Councils of Eleven are elected. It marks the beginning of the carnival season that ends in the celebrations of carnival in February. In the formerly Roman Catholic areas of the Netherlands, which mostly are in the south, forty days of fasting ended with carnival, a feast of excessive eating and drinking in which people disguise themselves in all kinds of costumes. In any case, in the Netherlands eleven is associated with oddity.

Apart from being the fool’s number, eleven is the first double-digit number. Eleven is like a repeating of the same strange event. This is what a coincidences are often about. Something strange might happen that might make you wonder, but if something similar happens again shortly afterwards for unexplained reasons, that could be amazing.

There have been several incidents of this kind in my life. For instance, once I was making a bike trip. A car door suddenly opened in front of me. I could barely avoid a collision. Within ten minutes on the same trip it happened again with another car on another road. Coincidences of this kind can happen by chance, but if many of such coincidences happen in one life, that could make you wonder.

For instance, my son Rob had two biking accidents in which he was injured. The first one happened near our home in Sneek just before the home of a retired physician who could help him with his injuries. The second accident happened on our holidays in Ameland just before the home of a retired physician who could help him. That is odd, even more so because these were the two only biking accidents Rob ever had.

Just before the discovery of Natural Money a strange accident occurred just before our house in Sneek. A car had crashed on a lamppost. The lamppost broke off. Two men stepped out and hared away. A few years later I realised that the accident may have been a prelude to the strange events that came later on. That same day I biked towards IJlst, a village near home. There I found a broken off lamppost that had been removed. This was remarkable because it was on the same road as our house is on the road to IJlst.

Once I was visiting my father. That day I was driving on a narrow road in the vicinity of Nijverdal where my father lived. An oncoming car hit the rear-view-mirror and it broke off. A few weeks later my father had exactly the same type of accident in his car. As far as I know never before had anyone I knew an accident of this kind.

In August 2014 we were waiting for a traffic light near home in Sneek. In the back of the car before us sat a guy who looked like my cousin Rob. And so I told my wife Ingrid about that. My cousin and I had been best friends for over a decade. We made a funny newspaper together. Immediately after I finished speaking, four trucks from transport company Leemans came from the right. My cousin Rob had once decorated a truck of Leemans. When I was eighteen years old my cousin and I went on holidays together, hitchhiking in Scandinavia. A truck driver from Leemans brought us to Sweden.

I had never seen a Leemans truck in Sneek before. They were there because of railroad construction work. My cousin came from Haaksbergen, a village halfway between Eibergen where I was born and Enschede where A******* was born. In June 2015 we were leaving Nijverdal after visiting my father. Haaksbergen was in the news because of a shooting incident.1 Haaksbergen had been in the news a few times before because of electricity failures,2 3, skating,4 and a monster truck accident.5 And so I said to Ingrid that Haaksbergen is in the news quite often. Just after I had finished speaking, we passed a Leemans truck by the side of the road.

In 2014 a woman rang our doorbell. Her father was about to turn eighty. He had lived in our house during the 1950s. As a birthday present she wanted to give him a tour in his old home. She made an appointment to visit us the next Saturday. She showed up with her sister and father and I gave them a tour around the house. A few hours later the door bell rang again. Ingrid opened the door to an elderly woman with her daughter and son in law. They asked if they could see the house because she had lived there in the 1960s. Both groups came independently and they hadn’t spoken to each other.

In July 2014 we went on holidays to Sweden and Norway. My son Rob wanted to visit Hessdalen Valley where mysterious lights have been sighted. Those lights look like orbs and so they are known as the Hessdalen orbs. Some people have claimed they were UFOs. When we were in Hessdalen we went to a viewing point on the top of a hill. Some Norwegian guys were standing there for hours already, hoping to photograph a UFO. We didn’t see anything unusual. We took some pictures of the environment. Only, after we came back we noticed orbs on one of the photos we made. But orbs on photographs are a phenomenon unrelated to the Hessdalen orbs so this is remarkable.

Featured image: Orbs on photograph taken at Hessdalen, Norway (2014).

1. Schietpartij Haaksbergen, politie geeft beelden vrij en toont auto schutter. RTV Oost (7 May 2015) [link]
2. Leger helpt Haaksbergen bij stroomstoring. Nu.nl (26 November 2005). [link]
3. Stroomstoring treft Haaksbergen en omgeving. De Volkskrant (29 March 2007). [link]
4. Natuurijsbaan. Wikipedia. [link]
5. Derde dode door ongeluk monstertruck Haaksbergen [link]

Jokers on Files.

Joking jokers

After working for Cap Gemini I became a freelance IT specialist in 1997. In 2002 there weren’t any freelance jobs available so I started as a database administrator at a government agency near home. Most people in the Netherlands know about the agency because it processes traffic fines for the police. It didn’t take long before I was tested. Already on the second day one of the main systems crashed, leaving a corrupt database. After two days of research I didn’t find the exact cause but it probably was a bug in the Oracle software so I advised to upgrade the database software.

Instead management declared it a crisis and to set up a multi-disciplinary task force to deal with it. They decided that the cause of the crash should be found. Every day at 10 AM there was a meeting to discuss the state of affairs. Every day I proposed to upgrade the database software. And every day the proposal was brushed aside. After two weeks the cause had yet to be found. Managers were getting desperate. Finally they were willing to consider my suggestion. And it solved the problem.

It was not possible track what access rights were granted and to whom. At the time it was an urgent issue and nobody was taking action. In 2004 I built an account administration system named DBB that automated granting and revoking access rights for all the main systems based on job roles. Nobody ordered me to do this but there was a business need. Nevertheless DBB faced stiff opposition and red tape. In 2005 it was introduced in a sneaky way with the help of the people who were responsible for granting access rights.

The logo of DBB was a drawing made by my wife Ingrid. It features jokers grinning at a set of file folders symbolising bureaucracy. Bureaucrats considered it a rogue system. For more than ten years they were busy scheming and devising plans to replace DBB. Two projects were started to this aim. The first one was halted prematurely because the complexity of the matter had been underestimated. In 2016 a new project team realised that it was pointless to replace DBB as it was doing a good job and was costly to replace. After eleven years the main systems of 2005 had were of age and were expected tp be decommissioned within a few years, so that DBB could retired together with those systems. Indeed DBB made a joke out of bureaucracy so the logo had been apt.

But DBB was also joking me in a rather peculiar way. In June 2010 someone requested me to drop a user. This was an unusual request as normally DBB took care of that. In fact, this hadn’t happened for several years. The username I had to drop was ELVELVEN. If you read that aloud, you say eleven elevens in Dutch, a reference to the 11:11 time-prompt phenomenon. Usernames were made up of the first one or two characters of the employee’s first name followed by the last name in full. To me 11:11 signals a combination of two related unlikely events that are related. And indeed, the joke had a part two, and it was even more peculiar.

In 2014, when I was testing an improvement to DBB, a test signalled that an illegal account had sneaked into our systems. The username was the first character of the first name followed by the last name of the lady of the dormitory. If she had been employed with us, this would have been her username. And her name isn’t common like Jane Doe so this is peculiar, even more so because it was the only username that popped up. It turned out that a guy with the same last name as hers had been employed with us. He had the same first initial. The account wasn’t illegal. I had mixed data from two different dates for the test, which made it appear that way.

In 2005 my manager promised me a promotion. He believed there should be a senior rank for experienced database administrators. He noticed that I had managed to introduce the account administration system DBB. “You have vision and you make things happen despite the opposition,” he said and added that he believed I was the best database administrator. Only, he didn’t appear to take any action so I tried to make him put his promise into writing.

That became quite a challenge. I feared I would end up with nothing. I asked him a dozen times to put his promise into writing. Just before he left, after putting some pressure on him, he wrote down that I could only get a minor wage increase, not the promotion he promised earlier. A few weeks later when he had already left, I was summoned to the human resources department. A bureaucrat had come up with a technicality so I couldn’t even keep the minor wage increase. Having it in writing didn’t help. My manager had left and his temporary replacement didn’t care.

When I arrived at home that evening Ingrid told me that a freelance agency offered me a job. This was the first time in a long time. And I was angry. With the benefit of hindsight it was rather peculiar that the agency called exactly on this particular day. I had worked so hard to get the promise in writing because managers and the human resource department weren’t dependable, which the incident demonstrated once more. And so I made a rash decision and resigned. It didn’t take long before I started to have second thoughts. There weren’t many jobs for database administrators near home. There were issues with my son and my physical condition didn’t allow for long travels. There was a new manager and he accepted my change of mind. After a few years of bureaucratic wrangling, the senior rank was established and I was promoted.