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Francis Siefken
Attended Utrecht University: Information Science
Lives in Utrecht, The Netherlands
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Francis Siefken

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One of my favorite songs on the album named after one of man's greatest relics.
The Gathering | Mandylion & Sand and Mercury

"There is no such thing as a natural death: nothing that happens to a man is ever natural, since his presence calls the world into question. All men must die: but for every man his death is an accident and, even if he knows it and consents to it, an unjustifiable violation." ' Well, you may agree with the words or not, but those are the key spring of The Lord Of The Rings. 
-- J. R. R. Tolkien quoting Simone de Beauvoir, "A Very Easy Death" in the BBC's 'In Their Own Words' '68 interview and mixed by The Gathering in '95.
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It has been an eventful day, scheduling job interviews and playing checkers and hex with little Jaro. He's getting quite good at 6 years of age even though he couldn't hold his tears when he lost. I tried to explain him that loosing is part of the game.
Tonight I play Eclipse with Jan. It's a 4X board game (ipad version available). 4X games are a genre of strategy board and video games in which players control an empire and "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate". 
4X strategy games, of which Civilization is probably the most famous example, going back a very long time, from VGA planets on FIDOnet to Langston's Empire mainframe implementation in the '70s to the Reed's College board game version from the 1930s (! 
Eclipse is one of my favorite games (for the complete list see my boardgamegeek profile) so if you want to play it sometime, your are welcome in Utrecht... or you can add me on Apple's gamecenter.
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Even though I was tired, yesterday I went to the NK poetry grand slam pre-qualifications: 7 poets battling it out in Cafe Hofman. Coming from Rotterdam, Friesland, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Belgium... pretty amazing experience to see man and woman stretching the boundaries of language and meaning to create something new, seeing the cultural differences and approaches and to see expert jury giving their comments.

One of the highlights was Arnoud Rigter (previous Eindhoven city poet ) 'battling' it out by improvising a complete to the point, polite but sharp poem, in perfectly spoken dutch concerning his opponent. So he was 'speaking' in poetic language real time! I've seen this improvising authenticity before in myself with dancing, role play and interviews but it's still amazing to realize as humans are not bound to 'normal' written and spoken channels to communicate and perform. 

Improvisation has my interest for a while, playing shortlarps recently... as with SecondLife there has been some academic discourse in how Improvisation theatre can improve your daily life by providing a virtual world, which in turn creates a mirror for self-reflection and self-improvement.

 Wikipedia mentions about this:
"Many people who have studied improv have noted that the guiding principles of improv are useful not just on stage but in everyday life. For example, Stephen Colbert in a commencement address said,
Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what's going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say "yes." And if you're lucky, you'll find people who will say "yes" back.
Tina Fey in her book Bossypants lists several rules of improv that apply in the workplace. There has been much interest in bringing lessons from improv into the corporate world. In a New York Times article titled "Can Executives Learn to Ignore the Script?", Stanford professor and author, Patricia Ryan Madson notes, "executives and engineers and people in transition are looking for support in saying yes to their own voice. Often, the systems we put in place to keep us secure are keeping us from our more creative selves." Madson explores the application of thirteen "maxims of improvisational theater" to real-life in the book Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up."

Even though it sound strange and we associate this with lunacy, a different approach to this would be to talk with yourself, as this will raise self-reflection and awareness. Of course the same goes for meditation. 

* Can Executives Learn to Ignore the Script

* Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up.

Tonight you can seen some other pro's in the local improvisation club:
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Packing photo albums and games to leave for the forests without the kids. Commemorate the 7300 day & nights we could share the good, bad and the ugly. Hopefully this time we can make up for our lost holidays.

Unrelated to our time off, here are some noteworthy articles and video's about solitude, relationships and sex.

"Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music."

* Music...
The Platters - Only You - HD (1955)

* Kahlil Gibran on love, marriage and friendship

* Bram Bakker (psychiater en auteur 'over sex gesproken')

* Eureka: Hoe vind ik de ideale partner

* Why women lose the dating game

* Polyamory: when three isn't a crowd

* Krishnamurti quotes on Love

* Jean Vanier on belonging and relationship

* Triangular theory of love

* A General Theory of love
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A sunday evening is always a good time to go to the movies, so me and my friend went to "Gravity".
I really liked it.. if you like space, philosophy and some action you will too. The 3D effects were also excellent. Even though the plot is simple the movie conveys a lot of meaning. As with most good science fiction, the special effects, the future and space are just a backdrop, a backdrop which enables a different perspective, like meditation, of current reality. In the movie Elysium, it was social commentary, here it is a commentary on life.
In "Gravity" the protagonist is literally taken out of the world, lost and far away from home, loses everything, almost dying like Job in the book Job. She has to come to terms with that.
As humans it's clear we are so insignificant, nature can alter our lives in an instant. We have only one option: face life and death as it is. This is the 'poor man'... mankind built the castles in the heaven, castles which will succumb to gravity and crash and burn down. We are nothing.

But mysteriously at the same time, Gravity points to the beauty of the fragile human condition, because even though we are in fact very insignificant, it is our will to live... that enables our lives to have meaning. In this regard the movie seems to be about humanism. An existentialism with a friendly but serious nod to religion. Yes, the ingredients are there; the Russian Christopher as icon of protection, the "I wish I learned how to pray" quote and other clear pointers. We cannot escape Gravity, the force of nature and decay. Like other bleak movies like The Road, Children of Men, Of Gods and Men, The Fountain, Tree of Life & the Sweet Hereafter this movie has a clear message. Every religion (including atheism) which cannot come to terms with this Gravity will crash. As such this is a movie which can speak powerfully to the minds of many.
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Zelfde ervaring. Mooie film.
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High on fever. A good time to revisit my eclectic list of books, novels, manuscripts or graphical novels which are high on strangeness and depth...

** Voynich (Author unknown)
** The Red Book (Carl Gustav Jung)
** Codex Seraphinianus (Luigi Serafini)
** Exegis and Valis trilogy (Philip K. Dick)
** Antichthon Universalis (author unknown)
** Synergetics I and II (Buckminster Fuller)
** The Mother Book and Matrix I, II, III, IV (Val Valerian, Michael Topper)
** Apocalypses (Lafferty)
** Schrodinger's Cat Volume III (Robert Anton Wilson)
** It Happened in Boston (Russell H. Greenan)
** Only Forward? (Michael Marshall Smith)
** The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion (Henry Darger)
** Dhalgren (Samuel Ray Delany, Jr.)
** Incal, The Saga of The Meta-Barons, Technopriests, Metabarons role playing game (Alejandro Jodorowsky)
** TOP 10 (Alan Moore)
** House of Leaves & the Fifty year Sword (Mark Z. Danielewski)
** The Drop Edge of Yonder (Rudolph Wurlitzer)
** Everything written by the Brother Blue
** Gravity's Rainbow (Thomas Pinchon)
** Interactive fiction: World's Apart (Suzanne Britton)
** Interactive fiction: Photopia & Varicella (Adam Cadre)
** Interactive fiction: A mind forever voyaging (Steve Meretzky)
** Interactive fiction: Metamorphoses (Emily Short)
** Interactive fiction: Vespers (Jason Devlin)
** Interactive fiction: Spider and Web & Shade (Andrew Plotkin)
** Obscure cities (François Schuiten, Benoît Peeters)
** Labyrinths, Selected Stories and Other Writings (Jorge Luis Borges)
** Der Spiegel im Spiegel (Michael Ende)
** The Man who folded himself (David Gerrold)
** The Singing Creek Where the Willows Grow: The Mystical Nature Diary of Opal Whiteley (Opal Whiteley, Benjamin Hoff (Editor))
** The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Chris Van Allsburg)
** Paper Rad, B.J., and da Dogs - Dan Nadel
** The Lost Thing & The Arrival (Shaun Tan)
** The Great and Secret Show, Book of the Art #1 (Clive Barker)
** A Greater Monster (David David Katzman)
** Infinite Jest (David Foster Wallace)
** The Wind-up bird chronicle (Haruki Murakami)
** Geek Love (Katherine Dunn)
** Imaginary Magnitude (Stanislaw Lem)
** Into The Void & Back from the Void (Joseph Marti)
** Synchronicity, Inner Path to Leadership (Joseph Jaworski)
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Hey, thanks for including my novel A Greater Monster! Cheers to you!
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Francis Siefken

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Mm. Cooeowowsl

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Praesentia realis

Called the Titus Brandsma Institute this morning to get the Brandsma bibliography, specifically articles he might have written for the journal 'Ons Geestelijk Erf' before he died in Dachau. I just can't find it online, it's a bit odd as he has been such an important person in the Netherlands. I could read the excellent biography of Ton Crijnen, but I want to get to the sources.
The thing that intrigues me is that he's one of the few local Dutch spirituals of the past century whose mysticism has a practical focus and 'keeps it real', similar to the attitude of the current pope and unlike lots (but not all) of modern post-christian and organisational "spirituality", which are in my opinion mostly money making enterprises without added value. Titus' attitude is summarized by: "God in hidden but existing in every human being and in creation. Every moment God creates everything from nothing. Everything is in God and God is in everything. That is why the mystic doesn't stand apart from daily life, but he's in the middle of it".

This panentheistic (as opposed to pantheistic) focus is familiar to me. Does anyone have tips regarding books, articles of modern christian or agnostic authors (preferable European) deeply rooted in spirituality with a hands-on focus? Which means people who not focus exclusively on the horizontal or the vertical at the expense of the other. I am thinking along the lines of people like Joseph Jaworksi, Eckhart Tolle, the Taize frairs, Thomas Merton and David Steindl-Rast, Henri Nouwen, Leonard Cohen, Kieslowski, Anthony de Mello and Trungpa's Shamballa initiative.
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It's been a year since Tuxavant announced this song in the bitcointalk forums: "The MP3 is now available on It's only $1 in BTC and you're supporting/encouraging my 11 year old (and thus her friends) to keep an interest in Bitcoin and extend the network effect of our community. She helped present bitcoin at last years defcon kids and will do so again next year. The rapper is "The" James Brown Jr. His mother Tomirae helped produce the vocals and Skylark (Doobie Brothers and Earth, Wind, and Fire) engineered the audio (and are now fans of bitcoin, somewhat)."

1 year later the 10 EUR value of the BTC is 400 EUR with no real end in sight.
It's time for the financial industry to embrace and extend the idea of cryptocurrencies, just like Apple, IBM, Google and Microsoft did with similar open source technologies.
While BTC is nice, it constitutes no real reform. Freicoin does - it's an ideal currency for LETS systems and perhaps the world...
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Apple Siri's 25 years earlier: a demonstration of Siemens AG's Speakos system at minute 11:30 in the "Wondere Wereld" show (Dutch). Vocabulary of 1000 words, recognition, detecting and parsing grammar into machine understandable question, answer is looked up in database and spoken within 5 minutes. Speakos voice sounds better then Espeak or Flite today!
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Surprised I slept all day...

when I woke up a friend rang me to say she wanted to give me her complete Philip K. Dick collection she bought in the '70s.. after me compiling my weird books list last sunday I suspect this to be a case of synchronicity. She gave me The Simulacra, The Preserving Machine, Time out of Joint and the Golden Man for starters - yeah who needs an e-book when you've got the real thing.

Unrelated to this, 'synchronistically' I came across interviews by musician Trey Spruance, a smart guy.
A point he makes (among many interesting ones hidden in the interviews) is that western philosophy and music is based for an important part on Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle but that Persian philosophy (Mir Damad, Mulla Sadra) had a different interpretation of these Greek philosophers, one close to phenomenology.
His band, Secret Chiefs 3, goes in this direction with featuring quotes by Henry Corbin, Shahab al-Din Suhrawardi, Aryeh Kaplan, Julius Evola, Rene Guenon, Hakim Bey and Seraphim Rose. I am not sure the latter is a good guy to quote as he said some questionable things about Thomas Merton and what about the anti-fascist Julias Evola, while Hermann Hesse and other luminaries are big fans he's also being embraced on the far right: paradox.

Hopefully this will aid to release western philosophy and art from it's existential crisis (my old teacher Fons Elders worked on this). In this regard I find it encouring that pope Francis (the religious leader) favorite author is Borges and Borges's secretary taught Francis to play piano!
Secret Chiefs 3 - Renunciation

Having a fever has it's advantages... to bad it's almost gone
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Utrecht, The Netherlands
fortean, catholic existentialist. groks board games, lojban, cellular automata and life's meaning
Francis is always interested in things happening at the edge of society and science, from psi research, skepticism (Radin, Bem to Randi) and sustainable energy like fusion, thorium fission and solar to alternative economies like LETS and Bitcoin.
In the evenings he likes to play board games with friends and people in the neighbourhood: Puerto Rico, Race for the Galaxy, Eclipse or Labyrinth. It's a more tactile, social and reflective way of interaction then that of adrenaline rush computergames. Apart from that he likes to tackle the occasional programming puzzles (ClojureScript, Rb, C#).

Topics he is interested in: sustainability, augmented and virtual reality, stereoscopic photography, robotics, artificial life, agogic questions (Martinus Langeveld, Paulo Freire, Fritz Perls), humanism, questions of meaning (Schillebeeckx, David Bentley Hart, Paul Tillich or Irvin Yalom). He also groks interactive fiction and solo board gaming (Mythic RPG, Magic Realm, RftG, Labyrinth).

Bragging rights
1. uses Dvorak keyboard layout with letters U and I reversed 2. slept 6x23 minutes each day for half a year 3. experienced a 4 minute long total solar eclipse 4. 2 children and a marvelous woman light my life
  • Utrecht University: Information Science
    2001 - 2004
  • Utrecht University: Social Sciences
    1993 - 1996
  • University for Humanist Studies
    1994 - 1999
  • Gymnasium
    Greek, Physics, Math, Chemistry, English, Dutch, German, 1987 - 1993
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Francis Siefken's +1's are the things they like, agree with, or want to recommend.
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