John Cleese on responsibility for own emotions

The remarkable John Cleese is spot on again:

Transcript:

I’m offended every day. For example, the British newspapers every day offend me with their laziness, their nastiness, and their inaccuracy, but I’m not going to expect someone to stop that happening; I just simply speak out about it. Sometimes when people are offended they want — you can just come in and say, “Right, stop that.” to whoever it is offending them. And, of course, as a former chairman of the BBC one said, “There are some people who I would wish to offend.” And I think there’s truth in that too. So the idea that you have to be protected from any kind of uncomfortable emotion is what I absolutely do not subscribe to. And a fellow who I helped write two books about psychology and psychiatry was a renowned psychiatrist in London called Robin Skynner said something very interesting to me. He said, “If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.” And when you’re around super-sensitive people, you cannot relax and be spontaneous because you have no idea what’s going to upset them next. And that’s why I’ve been warned recently don’t to go to most university campuses because the political correctness has been taken from being a good idea, which is let’s not be mean in particular to people who are not able to look after themselves very well — that’s a good idea — to the point where any kind of criticism or any individual or group could be labeled cruel.

And the whole point about humor, the whole point about comedy, and believe you me I thought about this, is that all comedy is critical. Even if you make a very inclusive joke like how would you make God laugh? Answer: Tell him your plans. Now that’s about the human condition; it’s not excluding anyone. It’s saying we all have all these plans, which probably won’t come and isn’t it funny how we still believe they’re going to happen. So that’s a very inclusive joke. It’s still critical. All humor is critical. If you start to say, “We mustn’t; we mustn’t criticize or offend them,” then humor is gone. With humor goes a sense of proportion. And then as far as I’m concerned, you’re living in 1984.

Free and Open Source Software – the next surge

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) won its battle for mainstream acceptance many years ago. Now it’s everywhere. It’s running the Internet and providing the foundation for software giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple. People are using FOSS like never before with Wikipedia being the biggest knowledge base in human history, Linux enjoying 83% market share on smartphones and 98.8% of the World’s supercomputers, Ubuntu users counting one billion, large corporations opting for FOSS, etc.

The next surge will come from security. There will be a backlash from politicians’ craving for a more controlled society. There is a continual push for invading the privacy of ordinary citizens by hollowing the security of software. The UK, China and the US are leading the assault on privacy by trying to make it mandatory for vendors to build backdoors into their encrypted software. This would mean that anyone using Unfree and Closed Source Software will be running software that is insecure by design. Enough awareness about this security threat will push companies in the direction of FOSS. And the ordinary citizen will follow.

Because – with FOSS, there is no vendor to strong-arm and bully into submission, and any backdoor will be open for all to see.

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Never mind the headlines…

the world is not falling apart.

We are living in the most peaceful of times. Less armed conflicts, less war casualties, homicide rates are going down, mass killings are plummeting…

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Wealth is increasing across the world, life expectancy is higher than ever and population growth has stagnated. And the people of the world is connected and communicating like never before.

It is indeed great times to be alive 🙂

Self correction

Self correction is perhaps the greatest of all abilities. The ability to correct one’s own thinking, emotions and actions, to correct one’s own path or one’s own goals to whatever one wishes. This ability relies on not having to defend oneself or any methodology.

To the degree one is defending self, one is glued to one’s own past and self correction suffers. To the degree one is defending a methodology, one is less able to self correct in that area.

An example pops to mind; the Scientology upper levels (the OT levels). As a person progresses up the “Bridge to Total Freedom”, he may get gains. These gains may lead him to defend Scientology. And to that exact degree he will shut himself off from self correction. He may feel “on top of the world”, making him ignore signs of own inabilities, failures, even depression. He feels that “nothing can hurt him”, making him cover up his emotions where he is in fact hurt by another. He may feel obliged to be rational, leading to blind spots of own irrationality.

But Scientology is just a one of a million examples. Every religion and every methodology injects this liability in its adherents. We see this in science where scientists cling to a theory. Energy, effort and IQ is spent defending that theory rather than seeking refinements or even better theories. We see this in marriages where a man is eager to defend his ways rather than improve them. Politicians are perhaps the worst of breed.

Defense weakens the ability to self correct. Loosing one’s need to defend can open up new areas to self correction.

Defending free speech

Free speech is one of the most basic human rights. Defending it often
comes with a cost. Those brave enough to defend our right to speak out
despite personal loss deserves our admiration.

Some people claim their beliefs are such that it should not be countered,
criticized or ridiculed. And a few are so convinced they hold the key to truth
that they reserve the right to bully, crush or kill anyone daring to
challenge their beliefs.

Like Scientology. Ingrained in the subject is the belief that Scientology
holds the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth. And so
Scientologists are encouraged to bully and crush all opposition. Tender as
they are, they cannot stand having their beliefs countered.

Before the Internet, the Church of Scientology was able to target its
resources to hunt down and remove any critics. After 1995, the scene
started to change. With champions of free speech such as Andreas
Heldal-Lund (of Xenu.net) and scores of others on the old newsgroup ARS,
Scientology was countered, criticized and ridiculed. The church tried to
battle the waves of criticism coming from this new frontier, but to no
avail. The founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, never predicted the
Internet and so he never devised any policies or plan to handle such a
massive arena for free speech.

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In recent years, Scientology has been made to grow up through waves of
free speech champions on the Net. Anonymous did a splendid job of grinding
down any effective opposition to free speech left in the marrow of
Scientology.

Whereas before it was dangerous to speak out against Scientology, today
you can freely speak. You can counter it with scientific arguments, your
own subjective hunches, satire or obscene ridicule.

No beliefs – political, religious or otherwise – should have any special
defence against criticism. No people of any belief should be able to pose
special restrictions on the free speech of others.

Free speech is a two-way street. We should reserve our right to be openly
criticized.

Today very few would support any special rights for Scientologists not to
be the target of satire.

How come the same can not be said of all religions or political views? Why are we so
sensitive to criticism against Judaism, democracy, Islam or the US?

I believe we should massively criticize all beliefs to the point where
those holding the beliefs defend them sensibly using free speech instead
of unfair play or violence.

I vote for more satire, not less.

Thanks Andreas. Thanks Anonymous. You have shown effective means.

Embrace the conflicts

Today I attended KPMG’s Executive Conference here in Oslo. Among the speakers were Fareed Zakaria (CNN anchor), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (12th NATO Secretary General) and Børge Brende (our Foreign Minister). The title of the conference: “International conflicts – Business Impact“.

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The speakers gave interesting insights into the history and status on current world conflicts and how they influence world business. The angles were intelligent and wise, covering in particular the many conflicts in the Middle-East and the war in eastern Ukraine. The seriousness of the conflicts, their problems and negative impacts were in focus. The consequences to human lives, trade and business and to world economy were highlighted. Solutions were discussed.

The prosperity of the West with capitalism as the vehicle for success was covered in some detail. The element of competition was praised as the central driving force of capitalism. It was a package of excellent content wrapped in a sober and well prepared form. Short of a representative from Al-Qaeda, nothing seemed to be missing.

Except an embracing of conflicts. Not the most horrific conflicts where children are victims of violence. But the world needs risk. It needs danger.

While most people would want a world without conflicts, they get quite pensive when they stop to really contemplate a completely peaceful world robbed of any conflict, of any and all crimes, and of all but the most mundane challenges. While the Western world owes much of its recent success to the inherent conflict in capitalism, the speakers didn’t express the relevant point that mankind owes much also to its more violent conflicts.

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When Brendan and I recently met with the IRA, I realized that while the peace treaty of Northern Ireland saved the lives of so many people, it also came with a cost, a tangible downside. With less to fight for, with less to die and live for, life becomes less challenging and more dull. And with dullness comes boredom and ultimately even depression.

Perhaps what most people want is the wanting of a goal and not the goal itself.

The case against patents

Thomas Jefferson once said:

Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

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And the debate on patents are more relevant than ever. Big companies suing each other for billions has become commonplace. Collecting patents to fuel an arsenal of defensive legal leverage, tip-toeing the mine field of patents when trying to invent something new, using patents to stifle competition rather than innovate, forging patents alliances that centralizes power and keeps the smaller players off the playing field. The list goes on. And the net value is hardly innovation incentive.

I want to bring to your attention an article that details the economic effects of patents (link to the full article). The abstract reads:

The case against patents can be summarized briefly: there is no empirical evidence that they serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless productivity is identified with the number of patents awarded—which, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity. Both theory and evidence suggest that while patents can have a partial equilibrium effect of improving incentives to invent, the general equilibrium effect on innovation can be negative. A properly designed patent system might serve to increase innovation at a certain time and place. Unfortunately, the political economy of government-operated patent systems indicates that such systems are susceptible to pressures that cause the ill effects of patents to grow over time. Our preferred policy solution is to abolish patents entirely and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent seeking, to foster innovation when there is clear evidence that laissez-faire undersupplies it. However, if that policy change seems too large to swallow, we discuss in the conclusion a set of partial reforms that could be implemented.

The article is an excellent read and complements the book, “Against Intellectual Monopoly“.

Also check out Johanna Blakley’s neat TED talk on the same:

Fair Game & forced Disconnection. So what?

The Church of Scientology is infamous for their Fair Game practice and their forced disconnection.

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But so what? What’s the big deal?

I mean, this is nothing more than the daily routine in the US and most other countries in the world. With the immigration laws of countries like UK, Norway and the US, families are regularly torn apart. And citizens in scores of countries are fair gamed and worse for speaking their mind. And people go into fits about the Church of Scientology doing this on a much smaller scale and being much nicer about it. US is regularly going apeshit to “protect their rights” or freedom. Scientology is doing the same on a comparably microscopic scale. Put into this proportion, I can’t help wonder what all the fuss is about.

A world without war, insanity and crime? No thanks.

“A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology.”

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Sounds great. But I don’t want it.

A perfect world without any irrationality, without any danger, without any real challenges. Nope. I want the world to be spicy, somewhat random and dangerous. Safety makes for boring. This is why people dream of adventures, besting the criminals, slaying the evil dragon, busting the drug cartel. It’s danger, the unknown, the risk, even the occasional terror that makes this world such a challenging place for the would-be hero. To do away with all the shit would make the world a spotless, perfect and thoroughly dull place.

When Anonymous hit Scientology with Project Chanology, they wrecked havoc in a lulzy and Chaotic Neutral way. They broke new ground and actually made life exciting for Scientologists around the world. Now that they have moved on elsewhere, what is left is a ghost town.

Scientology tries desperately to make the world unexciting. Scientologists are hiding from the Internet, from picketing “SPs” and old ladies, walking the very tight and narrow, creating a super-controlled, surveillance society and false security inner world á la the Truman Show. Much like the US have been busy building after 9/11.