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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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Wonderful! A coworker gave me a book on the KLF after our lunch conversation on Robert Anton Wilson last week. I didn't know there was more to them then meets the eye.
"They were the bestselling singles band in the world.
They had awards, credibility, commercial success and creative freedom.
That was until they deleted their records, erased themselves from musical history and burned their last million pounds in a deserted boathouse on the isle of Jura. And they couldn't say why."
Amazon reads: The KLF were never an ordinary band, and this is no ordinary music biography. It is a book about ideas, stories and how we tell them. It is about Dadaism, chaos theory, synchronicity, magical thinking, punk, rave, the alchemical symbolism of Dr. Who and the special power of the number twenty-three.
Wildly unauthorised and unlike any other music biography, John Higgs takes us on a sideways trawl through chaos on the trail of a beautiful, accidental mythology.…/…/
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Gamedevelopers talking about game narratives. Today 1-6pm PST (22pm-3am CET) is the livestream…/that-dragon-ca…/posts/1080847… … ‪#‎whygamesmatter‬
Ryan Green & Josh Larson is raising funds for That Dragon, Cancer on Kickstarter! A videogame developer's love letter to his son; an adventure game to inspire us to love each other; a voice for those fighting cancer.
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Last week there was an article in Volkskrant about how playing board games can make you more valuable in the working sphere. That's true, like in second life, WoW and other games there's some skills bleeding through that are useful in workplaces. I forgot the term I read in some Wired article 10 years ago, but it has been studied in the literature. I have a game called 'Ground Floor' where you are simulating building and operating your company.
But board games for me are more about having a good time with others and challenging my mind and myself in a predefined mental space or cage where you interlock your psyches in a different way then you are used to. Learning new skills is a side-effect. You shift roles, you get out of the usual patterns.
Todat evening Carson City with Claudy, a very nice game involving cowboys, outlaws, ranches, mines and saloons. It's better then sitting on the couch watching a movie or series. Just like taking part in dance classes is (also a sort of game routine, you gamify your moves). Carson City has more conflict then Puerto Rico our other favorite. With Puerto Rico you can plan your way ahead, building your buildings, plantations, spending your money wisely, ship at the right time, in the Wild West of Carson City that's much more difficult, it's. I like that in a game, unpredictability and freedom.
Tomorrow I'll be roleplaying my "Elena" character in the Dutch Game Garden if there are some spots left. Elena is a girl who is psychic and is on the run. It'll be interesting to see what happens (Psi*Run, design by Meguey Baker) .
Next week I'll be meditative dancing with barefeet engaging strangers non-verbally, sweating my prayers... where are my boundaries, how do I relate?
I think gaming boardgamers, roleplayers and online gamers prepare us for handling technologies that will take shape the coming decade; digital currencies, distributed autonomous companies and using virtual and augmented reality in creative ways, like game masters training and coaching people as servant leaders.
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History repeating itself?

NATO was in a war with Serbia in 1998 and 1999, during that time there was evidence of warcrimes by the KLA/UCK which NATO was supporting as you see in this shocking documentary on organ traffic. This evidence was due in the international court in The Hague but appears to have been supressed. The head of the UN Mission in Kosovo, Bernard Kouchner, later publicly denied the findings of his investigators in no uncertain terms: “Organ trafficking? Are you mad or something? This house does not exist and there is no organ trafficking."
The UCK are the good guys. Watch the documentary here:

My question is, is history repeating itself here - so much does the resistance against the news Kurdish fighters who kill their prisoners (see the character assasination of Dutch journalist Jan Eikelboom by GeenStijl) and the Ukrainian army is involved in massacre of civilians (Odessa massacre etc.). Both armies are supported by NATO and our country, the Kurdish and the Ukrianian government are the good guys as they are enemies of our enemies.
Or are the Peshmerga really the upstanding guys this 'independent' human rights commitee based in Erbil (!) argues:
Perhaps not so upstanding after all, blowing up villages to prevent sunni villagers from returning.

It's even more shocking to me that some people in Dutch society thinks not only covering up of possible warcrimes of the Kurdish fighters is ok but also the crimes themselves.

* Richard كافر ‏@ries073 
En zo'n Jantje Eikelboom maakt zich druk als die gasten een kogel in hun hooft krijgen geknald #mafketel
* Francis Siefken @fsiefken:
@ries073 @airstalker-@janeikelboom is een held. jullie willen wereld zonder internationaal recht of oorlogsrecht
* Richard كافر ‏@ries073 
@fsiefken @Airstalker @janeikelboom ISIS VERDIEND MAAR 1 DING EN DAT IS EEN KOGEL IN HUN KOP."

It makes a mockery out of the concept of International Justice itself. If this mob mentality takes hold in society, in the future it will be nation against nation again. If we tolerate this our children will be next.
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Improve yourself, focus on skills especially option 1, 6, 7 and 8
10 skills that will make you a better Rubyist #rails #ruby
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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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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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Time is the fire in which we burn

Yesterday evening I played Polis with Jean-Michel - from far away minus 30 degrees sub-artic Canada through video chat - revisiting the Peloponnesian War situation 2400 years ago. A war that in no small way shaped the history of our civilization.

Claudy watched Ivo Niehe's TV Show downstairs.

She told me during dinner she saw Wubbo Ockels (the first Dutch astronaut) ' final and emotional message from minute 22 onward from his hospital bed. A poem disguised as a mini-talk. 
We have only one life and one planet, and we (which includes me) are dying. 
After hearing it through UitzendingGemist I wondered, what would my final words be?

I remember Wubbo also called us to reconsider our chronocentrism, our limited views on past, present and future in that TEDx talk. Not because of what Einstein and the space shuttle experiments showed us, but because of the flash of insight he had on time in orbit. A view which has some similarity with the views in physics and philosophy.

Malcolm McDowell echoes the unspoken words of astronaut Wubbo Ockels in that Star Trek scene: "Time is the fire in which we burn".

The quote is taken from a poem by Delmore Schwartz (1913 - 1966)

Calmly we walk through this April's day,
Metropolitan poetry here and there,
In the park sit pauper and rentier,
The screaming children, the motor-car
Fugitive about us, running away,
Between the worker and the millionaire
Number provides all distances,
It is Nineteen Thirty-Seven now,
Many great dears are taken away,
What will become of you and me
(This is the school in which we learn...)
Besides the photo and the memory?
(...that time is the fire in which we burn.)

(This is the school in which we learn...)
What is the self amid this blaze?
What am I now that I was then
Which I shall suffer and act again,
The theodicy I wrote in my high school days
Restored all life from infancy,
The children shouting are bright as they run
(This is the school in which they learn . . .)
Ravished entirely in their passing play!
(...that time is the fire in which they burn.)

Avid its rush, that reeling blaze!
Where is my father and Eleanor?
Not where are they now, dead seven years,
But what they were then?
No more? No more?
From Nineteen-Fourteen to the present day,
Bert Spira and Rhoda consume, consume
Not where they are now (where are they now?)
But what they were then, both beautiful;

Each minute bursts in the burning room,
The great globe reels in the solar fire,
Spinning the trivial and unique away.
(How all things flash! How all things flare!)
What am I now that I was then?
May memory restore again and again
The smallest color of the smallest day:
Time is the school in which we learn,
Time is the fire in which we burn.
Op reis en in de studio portretteert Ivo Niehe inspirerende persoonlijkheden uit binnen- en (vooral) buitenland met een internationale reputatie.
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Intruiged by he worldview of the late brilliant mathematician Alexander Grothendieck (march 1928 - november 2014) I came across summaries of it at the "Grothendieck Circle" formed by some academics among them Pierre Lochack and Leila Schneps.
"In 1990, he gave away or destroyed all his papers and disappeared into the Pyrenees Mountains. For some years, no mathematicians knew where he was. Pierre Lochak and Leila Schneps, two French algebraic geometers, heard from a former neighbor of Grothendieck that the “crazy mathematician” had been spotted in a nearby town. They tracked him down and found him living alone, doing organic farming. They maintained contact with him for several years, but now, Schneps says, “he’s not in a state to be visited. It’s not possible to not quarrel with him – or rather, for him not to quarrel with you.” She hesitates to call him crazy, though she admits that in a technical sense, that might be true. “His mental state is very, very special.”

After his turning away from the world in 1990 he wrote about religious topics, the devil and the coming man. There are parallels with the work of Buckminster Fuller. Alexander's Flora/Lucifera janus figure reminds me of Carl Jung's Philemon figure.

More info on his more esoteric views on God and the universe, read:…/grothendieckci…/DieMutanten.pdf…/grothendieckci…/Clefsummary.pdf
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Aquatic apes

Wikipedia says about hobbits of Tolkien:
"Historically, the hobbits are known to have originated in the Valley
of Anduin, between Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains. According to The Lord of the Rings, they have lost the genealogical details of how they are related to the Big People. At this time, there were three "breeds" of hobbits, with different physical characteristics and temperaments:
Harfoots, Stoors and Fallohides. While situated in the valley of the
Anduin River, the hobbits lived close by the Éothéod, the ancestors of the Rohirrim, and this led to some contact between the two."

"The Stoors, the second most numerous, were shorter and stockier and had an affinity for water, boats and swimming. They lived on the
marshy Gladden Fields where the Gladden River met the Anduin (there is a similarity here to the hobbits of Buckland and the Marish in the Shire. It is possible that those hobbits were the descendants of Stoors). It was from these Hobbits that Déagol and Sméagol/Gollum were descended."

Gandalf tells Frodo in "The Shadow of the Past":

"...very long ago, there lived by the banks of the Great River on the
edge of Wilderland a clever-handed and quiet-footed little people. I
guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of
the Stoors, for they loved the River, and often swam in it, or made
little boats of reeds..."

According to the Tolkien specialists Smeagol/Gollum was a halfling, a proto-Stoor who liked to live near rivers:

"I want to believe" Fox Mulder always says (and I do as well). If the Aquatic Ape theory is true it might be Tolkien miraculously picked it up from the invisible morphogenetic fields or the Akashic chronicles. That would be neat.

It's also neat that like Tolkien, Alister Hardy, one of the aquatic ape propagandists was also interested in matters of religion.
But even though The Lord of The Rings was written long before Hardy went public with his ideas they influenced each other as  Julian Caldecot writes in Water: Life in Every Drop:

"The obvious conclusion, that our lineage must once have been
semi-aquatic (bv. in Afrika?), was reached in the 1930s indepnently by Max Westenhoefer in Germany and Alister Hardy in England. Hardy was a professor at Oxford University from 1946 to 1961, as was J.R.R. Tolkien between 1925 and 1959. I mention this because they may well have influenced each other in developing the character of Gollum in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, who is described as a semi-aquatic, fish-eating, ancestral form of the more humanlike hobbits. In any case, Westenhoefer's and Hardy's basic idea, now called the aquatic ape theory, has been further developed sinsce the 1970s by Elaine Morgan."
"... it seems quite likely that the aquatic ape theorists are on to
something, and that our ancestors did spend some hundreds of thousands of years in a coastal environment, living a semi-aquatic lifestyle."

That 'isolation' can do odd stuff in the process of evolution you see with the discovery of the Homo Florensis - also nick named 'hobbits'.
After what I would say as a rather harsh discussion with Elenhir, I decided to find out whether he or I was correct about the race of Gollum. Did he fit the term Hobbit, or did he fit the term halfling? After reading hardly last night, I found the intentional purpose of Tolkien`s Gollum.
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One of my 'research interests' is the philosophy and psychology of chance, synchronicity and 'God's providence'. How improbable are highly improbable events really or how miraculous are 'miracles'? As John Lock says in that great tv show Lost: 'we are here for a reason', but what and whose reason is that? Is it the (arbitrary) meaning we ourselves assign to events or is there something more to it?
There is some literature on the topic from a variety of backgrounds I've read to understand my own experiences better. In my life I experienced a few things that were out of the ordinary, no thundering voice from heaven but genuine low-key odd occurences.

From a psychodynamic perspective Carl Jung wrote about synchronicity, as he thought he noticed a peculiar relationship between the inner dreamlife and events occuring not causally related to the dream afterward. Carl Jung also noticed such an effect when working with an oracle like the I Ching, but in principle asking a question and randomly looking up a bible quote works too.
He relates for example: "A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me his dream I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the window-pane from outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to the golden scarab that one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetoaia urata) which contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt an urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since, and that the dream of the patient has remained unique in my experience."
An oft cited example of synchronicity is the true story of the French writer Émile Deschamps who in 1805 was treated to some plum pudding by the stranger Monsieur de Fortgibu. Ten years later, he encountered plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant, and wanted to order some, but the waiter told him the last dish had already been served to another customer, who turned out to be de Fortgibu.
Many years later, in 1832, Émile Deschamps was at a diner, and was once again offered plum pudding. He recalled the earlier incident and told his friends that only de Fortgibu was missing to make the setting complete — and in the same instant the now senile de Fortgibu entered the room.

Input from the perspective of the roaring sixties comes from Robert Anton Wilson. He wrote Cosmic Trigger series and of particular interest are his final secret of the illuminati and the concept of reality tunnels. In these so called 'reality tunnels' for people who start to belief in certain out of the ordinary things, reality seems to bent toward these beliefs beyond what you'd expect from psychology alone, in some cases so drastic RA Wilson relates that people get abducted by their own fantasies. How serious or phantastical his books are I am not sure. His Coincidance book also goes into the topic.

Anticipating, getting a feeling for these synchronicities can set you on an 'inner path of leadership' as Joseph Jaworski writes from a more management oriented perspective. Like Jung he also hypothesized an a-causal relationship between the inner state and events happing outside of your control. I noticed myself that after meditation the 'chance' of synchronicities occuring seems to be higher, but this is purely anecdotal evidence, I am not sure how you could measure the frequency of synchronicity other then jotting down the reasons for being amazed or startled and analyzing chances later.

A new refreshingly sceptical addition to the debate of meaningful chance and synchronicity is the book by David Hand, The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day which goes into the statistical background of improbabel events. At the end of the excellent essay 'Understanding the improbable' David Lane's approach is explained to be not necessarily in opposition to spirituality.

As I am versed in religious language, I have little problem understanding a theological essay on providence. The Dominican Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange for example wrote "Providence: God's loving care for man and the need for confidence in Almighty God" from a religious perspective.

On youtube and the internet there is lots of information to be found on the topic of synchronicity, but it's difficult to seperate the good from the bad. Some people are lost in their 'reality tunnels', some people are borderline psychotic and some are religious nutcases (that's not to say religious people like me are by definition nuts). It's rare to see smart people taking a no-nonsense open attitude to these questions.

Also read 'The Black Swan' by Taleb
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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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  • 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
Basic Information
fortean, catholic existentialist. groks board games, lojban, cellular automata and life's meaning
Francis is interested in things happening at the edge of society and science, from psi research, skepticism (Radin, Bem, Randi) and sustainable energy like fusion, thorium fission and solar to alternative economies like LETS and cryptocurrencies.
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 (Clojure, 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
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Utrecht, The Netherlands
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