Headwind is a newsletter/online magazine against the grain.

It presents provocative (to others, not YOU of course .-) and profitable* articles about phenomena that are — in the unorthodoxly educated opinion of yours truly — questionable, sophistical, vulgar and plain dangerous to our world.

* profitable = advantegous, helpful, valuable (if you value viewpoints outside the box)

Think of Headwind as the friendly but emphatic bark of a watchdog.

watch2No — I will not fall into the well of Ranting, sniffing out errors, being a heat-seeking shit-detector automaton, making things out to be worse than they are.

Yes — I find many things in life beautiful, charming and touching (not the least as a sometime photographer). The glass is surely more than half full.

The spirit of Christmas
The spirit of Christmas

However, my work instincts guide me to what can be improved. The headwind blows especially towards imperfections that are Photoshopped by PR people who, adroit at finding the attractive euphemism, the reassuring half-lie, the forgiving circumlocution, are selling us worthless tinsel and lead us up the garden path to hell. (Remember, PR is also a shortening for per rectum.)

Imperfection is one thing. We are all imperfect; some of us are even lying in the gutter. But intentionally deceitful beautification tries to stop us from looking at the stars.

Fair winds to you

Ladislaus Horatius

The BIG scam


“And here is the latest news. We have reports telling us that a large amount of counterfeit money is in circulation. Our expert, Mr F. Ake, will give us the details and also show everybody an easy way to differentiate between real and counterfeit dollars.”

I am sure everybody would be riveted to the TV if this was on the news. Of course we want to be aware of fake money, of course we want to learn how to see the difference, of course we don’t want to be ripped off.

But we are, in grand style!

Something very similar to this is going on right now, and have been going on for hundred of years, only on a global scale and influencing everybody, with or without dollars. Shouldn’t that be even greater news?

Yes, it should. And it would, were it not for that busy man behind the curtain.

Etymology, tracing the family tree of words, is mainly a pursuit for intellectual or academic folks, with little practical application in our everyday lives. But there are notable exceptions. The following is one of the most important ones, much more important than genuine and fake money. I would say, as important as being able to distinguish North and South.

The word in question is “progress”. Let us see what has happened to it through history, how it changed from simple spatial movement forward to cultural movement upward.

progress early 15c., “a going on, action of walking forward,” from O.Fr. progres, from L. progressus (see progression). Figurative sense of “growth, development, advancement to higher stages” is from c.1600.

Thus the word has two meanings: walking forward versus developing, advancing to higher stages. A literal and a figurative sense, clearly different.

How did the mix-up and confusion come about? I don’t know, but it is very valuable just to know that it DID. As to how and why — I suspect that chauvinism, the impulse to want to seem better than others, not least our forefathers, plays a role in it.

progression late 14c., “a going on, action of walking forward,” from Old French progres (Modern French progrès), from Latin progressus “a going forward,” from past participle of progredi (see progression).

from pro “forward” (see pro-) + gradi “to step, walk,” from gradus “a step”

So once upon a time “progress” just meant to move forward, taking a step forward. However, if you stood immediately facing a wall, that was not a very wise thing to do. Michel de Montaigne elegantly captured the whole dilemma in the following saying: “When you stand on the edge of a precipice there is only one way to make progress, and that is to take a step back.” A step forward means certain death, and that’s only progress if you are suicidal.

Old-fashioned progress

So, progress originally meant a linear forward-movement but then the figurative sense took over and taking steps forward became synonymous with “growth, development, advancement to higher stages”.

And that’ s where we are today; confusing taking steps forward with moving upwards in true development, maturity and evolution.

Some examples of A Step Forward-progress:

Our computers will soon have 1) more memory 2) faster processors 3) more functions.

The trains will travel 1) faster 2) be more comfortable 3) have wi-fi in all the wagons (except third class, which doesn’t exist…).

Robots will soon be 1) very affordable 2) cute and cuddly 3) as smart if not smarter than you 4) very good in warfare.

The parameters of these steps forward can be classified into a few main groups.

  • SPEED (things, processes and services will be faster, never slower)
  • PRICE (things, functions and services will be cheaper, maybe even free, but never more expensive (the Wide-eyes Boy in the Toyshop-model))
  • COMFORT and EASE (things, products and services will be more comfortable and easier, demanding almost nothing of us, at most a mouse click. Hungersite, where you help the poor of the world with (you guessed it) a mouse click is an example of this.)
  • EFFICIENCY (making processes faster, more cost-effective, streamlined, giving more product for a lesser price)
  • STREAMLINE (there will be less friction, mechanical and psychological)
  • AUTOMATED (humans need not be involved in the process at all; the field of AI and robotics today)
  • HIGHER SALES (the product or service will be bought by more people).

Now let’s bring out our mental scalpel. Are these examples steps forward or development? We have been inspired / manipulated to use the words as synonyms, but they are not the same thing.

We have in Pavlov’s dog fashion been taught to salivate before words like speed, comfort and efficiency. Ring the bell, our tongue comes out all wet. But if we really try to be Homo sapiens for a moment, WHO is gaining by these steps forward?

It differs. Sometimes almost everybody, sometimes a few people, very often mainly those who sell and market a product.

And WHAT are they gaining? Development, or more money?

Let’s ponder the development, sorry, I mean progress of robotics.

In our confused, manipulated thinking, mixing progress and development into a muddy porridge, we have learnt to applaud or at least accept that

  1. robots are taking over more and more jobs.
    What does that do with us as workers, employees, humans? Is that good news? We don’t know…

2) robots are getting more and more smart, maybe soon surpassing humans.

The word “robot” originally means worker, but a worker that is smarter and more logical than us might not accept the role of worker-slave. What happens then? We don’t know…

So this is obviously progress, many fantastic steps forward for robotics, and for those making money on robots.

But what is it for everybody else…? Can it be called development?

In what way would this develop us as humans? Being able to live more comfortably does not count. Remember that optimal comfort is coma, and we are heading that way.

–Another example is motorism. Cars have in the last 150 years taken, or hijacked, a very central role in our lives. Not in every individual’s life (not everybody has a car) but in our culture, in the world. Our towns and cities, even villages look as they do to accommodate the car.

Is that progress or development?

It depends. There are some variations. But in the big picture the main advantages (to use a word that is neither progress or development) seem to be these:

a) We can travel faster
b) We can travel long distances, faster

Nothing stops us from walking to another continent, or bicycling. So the gain is in time and distance, and of course in what we can carry with us. (A bike or a backpack are of course limited in that respect.)

The picture is clearly not black or white. But for most if not all people it is generally white.

The thought that the car was basically a BAD IDEA, not helping but hindering humanity’s development (in contrast to progress), is not a thought that is permitted over the threshold. We don’t allow ourselves such rebellious thoughts, thank you. No Ludditism, we are scientific!

The examples are many, but the basic question is the same: Is it progress or development? Let’s ask that question as often as possible, making the work of the man behind the curtain a bit more challenging and less streamlined.

Of course it’s development!

Girl balance


(A girl is not a woman, language is quite clear about this. We can, and I often do, call a woman a girl, but there IS a difference. In age, in maturity, in grownupness.)

I am tired of Girl Power. The more noticeable (those most seen and heard in media, including social media) members of the “fair sex” are more and more masculine, more and more shouting, kicking and yelling. More and more Yang.

Yes, the times are a-changing and roles and energies are moving on. But I don´t think that women taking over the less desirable aspects of men (aggressivity, cockiness, commercial business attitude) is progress.

Both Yin and Yang have positive and negative aspects. Being more assertive (Yang) can be real retrogression if we do it from the negative pole.

While girls and women are turning more and more Yang I sometimes wonder if anybody understands Yin anymore.

And the emancipation is selective. I seldom if ever hear about women demanding to be soldiers. It still seems okay that it’s mainly young men who are going to die on the battlefields of war.

Power, yes. Yang, yes. But war is messy and it ruins your coiffure.


I am tired of power games but there is one kind we should talk more about: Boy Power.I am not talking about young men here, but about men and women who practice neither masculine nor feminine thinking, but BOYISH thinking

Boyish thinking means putting the values of technology, gadgetry, collecting (more of something is always better), duels of all kinds (from friendly wrestling in the schoolyard to prestige inflated debates in academia to fiery, hateful political brawls, eventually on to shooting and killing) on a pedestal.

Both men and women have turned boyish. Women politicians, but also feminists whose martial energies are the opposite of Yin. The political arena seems extremely boyish. The exceptions confirm the rule.


Girl power is about empowerment, so I am told.

“Empowerment” is a word with a positive ring, “disempowered” negative. But between the extremes there should be a balance where you are not disempowered but also do not seek more power.

However, power is as blood to a vampire. Taste it once, want it again. And again and again.

Who of us can say “ENOUGH! I have enough of what I want and need.” Most of us are happy with a bit more, and a bit more. Perhaps with a LOT more. The more-impulse is superbly captured in this great song by Stephen Sondheim.

But at the end of the first girl power video there was something worth serious consideration.

Girl power has come a long wayYes, let´s. Let´s look beyond power to something more balanced. What about Girl Balance?

To reach balance we need to see clear. See the extremes and also what lies in between. There is a world of difference between getting power in order to reach equilibrium, and wanting power just to get more power, in a greedy way.

Plato said that wisdom consists in knowing how far to go, and to go precisely that far and no further. I am not sure about the quote but the thought is here to ponder:

Know how far to go. Don´t exceed.

This brings balance into the picture, not just power. So let´s have Girl Balance and Boy Balance and Man and Woman Balance. In one word: balance!

Instead of this incessant “I want more! More than I had, and definitely more than you had.”

PS: An exception. If what we want more of is balance, great. Sometimes more is just fine.

We are so much better now


I saw “The Imitation Game” yesterday, a natural choice of movie after having finished reading The Genius Famine.

I didn’t know much about Turing and didn’t know that Benedict Cumberbatch played in this movie, too. Fictional Sherlock and actual Turing were in the same league, and Benedict plays them both very well. The whole movie was good, enjoyable and, yes, intelligent, as one would wish in this case.

However we measure Turing’s contribution in the war, and for England, it seems difficult to avoid the following conclusion: Turing gave enormous value to England, more or less helped it to defeat the Germans. From the end text of the movie: “Historians estimate that breaking Enigma shortened the war by more than two years, saving over 13 millions lives.”

That’s a lot of lives. Just saving 100, or even 2, is a good deed. In any case one should think that England owed a lot to this eccentric, odd young man.

So what happened after the code was broken? Then another aspect of the relationship between Turing-England came to the fore, namely his oddity and deviation, in this case his homosexuality. For this crime Turin was sentenced to chemical castration, and soon after committed suicide (at least so the official story goes).

Now England owed him even more. But a bit late to repay, no?

Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a statement on 10 September 2009 (54 years after Turing’s death) apologizing and describing the treatment of Turing as “appalling”. (My underlining.)

“Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can’t put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him … So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan‘s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better.”

Proud to be sorry? And his treatment was “of course utterly unfair”?

No, not “of course”. That’s just us patting our own back, trying to make ourselves look better than we are.

However, OF COURSE it is very easy to nod and agree and to say “How terribly awful! How could they treat people like that…?”

The answer is that we are doing the same thing now. Only to other, different folks, with other, different mistreatments. (Don’t expect sin to come again in the same costume, that’s naive.)

Don’t tell me that if you had been contemporary with Turing — had met him, maybe been his neighbor — you would have been the one to stand up and protest to the way he was treated. I don’t believe you.

Much more likely you would have been just as most anybody was then. After all, that’s how we are today; as most anybody. Acting, thinking, even feeling like most anybody in our milieu.

So of course we are not better today. We’re just bad in a different way.

How I wish I could dispel this enormously popular and persistent myth: that we have progressed and are not guilty of the sins of yesteryear.

Of course we are. Our sins are just of a different colour and shape, turned towards folks not yet protected by the Posthumous Understanding of Posterity.

We probably commit much greater sins because today justice has been even more institutionalized, formalized, digitized (soon robots can do it), has become even more a machinery instead of being a question of the heart.

The real Turing and his “imitation”.

Another thing about Turing. If we can speak about his “type” (I don’t mean sexuality now) it seems to be very invisible, until a really large and urgent problem turns up. Then he shows his true colors, true brilliance. Until then, in more “normal” and lukewarm circumstances he is basically a nobody, a bit odd, maybe a recluse, not interesting to most people.

The cheese that lures this mouse out from his hole is some really dramatic challenge.

These we have today — poverty, wars, stress, cancer, environmental degradation, overpopulation, etc. — so this could be a great time for people like Turing, right?

Perhaps, perhaps not.

We have unfortunately gotten used to a very modern approach to problems: They are to be solved by organizations, experts and committees. (While we know that these are NEVER as smart, intelligent or creative as folks like Turing. By definition.)

So we have become genius-blind and organization-tilted. We are looking for answers in the wrong quarter, asking not the individual but groups stuck in groupthink.

In the Group we trust, in Committees we believe, in Experts we confide, in Statistics we invest. While it is in the exact opposite direction — the quarter of the odd, solitary thinker — that the answer lies.

What shall we talk about?


What shall we talk about today?  
Who or what decides that question?

Often we talk about what others are talking about. And others are talking about what MEDIA are talking about, the so called “news”.

We post a link, thus repeating or replicating something that might have absolutely nothing to do with US, our thoughts, feelings and dreams.

This can be intentional hide-and-seek, keeping up a facade, or it can be unintentional, unconscious killing of time.

But it is more than that. It reinforces the status quo, current thought patterns, feeling patterns and World Patterns. It keeps the world the same.

It freezes life.

Life is a copy machine.
Life is a copy machine.

A world that sorely would need to change, improve and move forward is “kept in place” by all this imitative repetition. How many of us are looking in a brand new direction, pointing towards a new star, saying something nobody has said or has dared to say? Something that comes from within, dictated by inner impulse and not from other people or media?

Life is like a CD player in Repeat mode; the identical song is playing over and over. The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie? The same procedure as every year, James.

We have even been taught to see this is something positive! We say something has “gone viral” — a supposedly good thing. We might as well say “it has gone cancerous”.

So, what shall we talk about today?

Finding better channels for good talk

TALK. How important it can be. And how different, depending on the channel.

We sometimes say “talk is cheap”. But it can also be both expensive, difficult and frustratingly muddled.

IRL is the best channel if you ask me. Face to face, there is so much more substance and “reality” in our interaction, conversation, chat. Much more real broadband (all senses being online.) Our “likes” (= a smile, hug, kind word and willing ear) are worth so much more than any digital, anonymous “like”.

The gossip machine working at full speed... And what a good time we had!
The gossip machine working at full speed. “And what a great time we had!”

But sometimes one has to settle for second best. What would that be?

Old fashioned telephony can be okay. Less radiation, less poor reception, etc.

Skype with video is not bad at all. I would give the silver medal to Skype.

What comes next? And bear in mind that I am now thinking of the therapeutic effects of talk, interchange and conversation. Too little two-way talk, and one becomes a “wall-climber”. (No, that’s not a fly on the wall, that’s me.)

Enter “social media”. They are supposedly about “talk” and conversation and exchange and “sharing”. Yes, but they don’t even reach third place with me. Why not?

Because here talk 1) has become commercialized (somebody is indirectly making money out of the the fact that we want, enjoy, and need to exchange thoughts and feelings with each other), 2) is peppered with ads, and 3) is intercepted (the digital “room” is bugged).

Imagine having a heart to heart talk with a friend at your favorite coffee house and suddenly they put microphones on each table. “We want to make this place more happening, more SOCIAL!”

One, two, three... testing.
Talk into the mike, please.

I don’t know about you but my conversation would freeze and lose most of it’s spontaneity.

This stops me from having enjoyable conversations on for example Facebook. Zuckerberg is the sixth richest person on earth (thanks to us), the ads are there, the interception is there.

No, “social media” are much too far removed from the coffee house.

And yet, we would need some better, good alternatives when the best ones are not available. Something 1) non-commercial (of course one could pay a certain price for it, just as we buy a latte at Wayne’s Coffee even if we just want to sit and talk), 2) lacking ads, and 3) lacking snooping.

The entrepreneur, inventor, thinker who comes up with a Great Idea here is worth a million “likes”. At least!

Variety is the spice of Like

Aren’t we getting much too predictable with our praise nowadays?

We click a Like button, and that’s it. Facebook has expanded the repertoire enormously to six (6) symbols: Like, love, haha [springtime for humor], wow, sad, angry.

Now thats rich! Not.

How can we get out of this boring rut, dictated by Messrs Zuckerberg & Co? Here are some suggestions. Instead of clicking Like:

pointing-trspBe radical! Send flowers!

pointing-trsp Write a few well thought out words: “I really like that. And by the way, I really like YOU a lot. Did I ever tell you that in plain language? If not, now’s the time!”

pointing-trspShare, repost or re-tweet what you liked to 30 of your friends or contacts, with the comment “Fantastic, you just have to check this out, folks!”

pointing-trspSend chocolate. True, it takes a bit longer to arrive than a Facebook Like, but who is in a hurry? If you are, send it right away.

pointing-trspIf the person is close by, go and give him/her a hug and a kiss. Now we are talking real broadband…

pointing-trspSend a loving SMS. It’s not much but it’s more than a like.

pointing-trsp Phone the person up. Use your voice, not just your fingers, to convey how much you like whatever it is you like. Hearing a voice is already a gift in a world that has gotten used to primitive messages that have to be read head sideways.

pointing-trspInvite the person to dinner, coffee and chat or the movies. The world could end tomorrow, so you might as well make the best and happiest of it.

Szeressük egymást gyerekek.
Szeressük egymást gyerekek.

Unnecessary (but fun!) conflicts


Some things in our lives are SO unnecessary. Like fighting between ourselves. But then this impulse seem to be ingrained in us, as if coming with mother’s milk. And it doesn’t have to be fight with fists, it is enough with “wits”.

However, I do not find the fight between two kinds of believers witty or funny. Tragic and regrettable, rather.

First we have the folks who Believe. In God, spirits, flying saucers, new age stuff, conspiracies, chemtrails, and so on.

Then we have the folks who Believe they Know. But they don’t call themselves that: they just say We Who Know.

I am not here to start another fight, that’s exactly what we have too many of already. But I would like to say to the folks Who Know, actually to everybody: Really, honestly, how much do we actually KNOW, and how much do we exclude just because they don’t fit in with the current Rules and Truths of our self-created Science?

Most people admit that with some questions we don’t know what IS. For example what is life, what is electricity, what is gravity, etc.

That’s a nice touch of humbleness, to say “I don’t know that”.

However, often these very same folks DO know what ISN’T. For sure. Absolutely! They “know” that there is no such things as God (sometimes they write long books to prove it), that crop circles and chemtrails are just myths, they KNOW that astrology, homeopathy is bogus, etc.

These I call the second kind of believers. Not so much motivated by a desire to discover, reveal and SEE, but more by a desire to slap the hand of the other kind of believer, by a desire to seem wiser, more knowledgeable, in one word BETTER than the other fellow. Oh, what a wonderful and warm feeling when we can say “I am right, and you are wrong!”

Fighting is such great fun…!

I am sure we all have this tendency. It is my humble wish that we would all try to keep this tendency in check and not let our potential arrogance get the better of us, so that we don’t get stuck in the position of Looking Down At.

Sure, the first kind of believer (who simply believes) can be very naive and blue-eyed, too Yin. But the second kind easily becomes too hard and harsh. And final. Even terminal.

These believers call themselves “sceptics” and question everything (except themselves?). They want to close down questions, almost forbid them. Sounds like the Inquisition to me.

They perhaps forget that science is a mobile thing, that yesterdays scientific truth is no longer valid. Which probably means that today’s scientific truth is soon going to be invalid as well. So where is the ground for being cock-sure, for berating and lecturing other kind of believers? I don’t see it.

I see unbalanced naivety and unbalanced arrogance. I see too much Yin and too much Yang. And I see us all dance in a ring.

Let me end this text by giving the word to a “softie”, the poet Robert Frost.

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

So let us stop fighting between ourselves. We have real problems, let’s not add to them by the childish impulse Win The Argument and Nominate Idiots.

We are all idiots, but some of us look at the stars. Let’s peace*, not fight.

*Isn’t it interesting that we don’t have a word (a verb) for doing peace, when we have so many words for doing fight and war?

Share or show?


I suspect that the word “share” is one of the most used words on the Internet.

What does it mean — and not mean? What do I do when I “share”?

I send a link to a friend or acquaintance, I post an article or picture in a newsgroup or Facebook.

How is that sharing, and not just sending, forwarding or showing?

These questions are useful if the word is to have a substantial meaning, or, if we are to use it with reflection and not just as a cloud-engendering pop euphemism.

I can share dinner with you if we sit at the same table. Sharing a picture of my dinner with you is showing you my dinner.

My unphotoshopped dinner

It is shown, not really shared. (And considering this particular dinner, you might be glad it isn’t .-)

We can really only share things and experiences IRL (“in real life”), at a short distance, with folks who are physically close to us. That doesn’t mean that sending, forwarding or showing has no value. That would be limiting.

But they ARE something different.

I am showing very many things to the world currently, and sharing very few. I wish it were the other way around. Ah well, at least I am not fooling myself into believing that I share when I show, and then wonder why my “sharing” gives so little IRL satisfaction.

What say Queen?

Looking forward to the song “The real sharing must go on”.

When “more” means less


The world is upside down. At least language is sometimes.


You have probably seen this advice, or admonition, many times on the Net. It means that in order to see the whole text you first have to click READ MORE.

Why hide the whole text to begin with? When I started blogging there was no “read more”. What you saw was what you got, there was no need to confirm that you wanted all of it. If you got bored, you could always stop reading.

There is statistics out here — as if you really needed it — that shows that people very seldom read articles or posts to the sweet end. (Some of the statistics here and here.)

Big surprise — not.


I believe people still read books. To the last page.

But the Net is not a book, it is a market where thousands and millions are competing for attention. Of course you are not going to read a longish article to the end! Why, you might miss something more fun, or sensational, or sexsational, if you do.

Link bait content from other sitesThis is no surprise. Then how does this “read more” change the workings of Internet, this enormous marketplace of attention?

It gives us an opportunity, or chance — I would say inspiration — to not read at all. Cool! At least not more than what we see in the teaser.

Now that is another thing that makes me somewhat furious. Or made me, when my page still had this function.

The Read more-thing turned the beginning of my article into as teaser. I was actually asked to think like a female undresser!?!

Behind this Make a great teaser so people click on Read more-thing lies a sorry premise: People don´t REALLY want to read your text, are not really interested in hearing you out.

That´s sad.

I can accept it as a journalistic attitude, but we are not all journalists. I am not. So don´t ask me to write for people who are uninterested in reading. I put pride in writing well enough to be interesting, to the sweet or bitter end.

The end.
dont read

Look to the left!


In my more experimental period I created a short-lived company called

? & Co

The aim of the company was not trying to find answers and solutions, but vice versa.

Motto: “Why look for answers when you haven´t even found a good question?” Which I think is a good question.

Look at this picture:

QUESTION >>>>>>> ? >>>>>>> ANSWER

To the left of the question mark we have the question, to the right the answer.

We humans seem to have a very strong right leaning tendency, meaning that we sharpen our ears (relatively speaking) when an answer is forthcoming. We are not so bad at deciding whether an answer was poor or rich.

But this staring to the right make us half-blind to the other, left side. We are very quick to dismiss answers as bad, stupid or idiotic. But what about the questions?

How wise or intelligent was the question? Was it well formulated? Was it even a real question, or rather a statement masquerading as a question (which happens a lot)? Was it one question, or perhaps three or four in a confusing jumble?

These are some of the questions we could ask more, while turning our heads more to the left.

ornament5bI am regularly surprised by the questions journalists — supposedly their job is to find, formulate and ask good questions — ask. It is very common to hear the jumble I just mentioned, 3-4 questions tied into a messy knot.

It is also common to hear the victim of this confused multi-question to answer it within blinking, with a sometimes less than brilliant answer. “Blinking” could be a counter-question:

  • I didn´t understand your question…?
  • Can you please clarify?
  • Which of your questions do you want answered first?

Due to some impulse to please or not complain the interviewee goes along with the charade, perhaps not even clarifying for himself that he didn´t understand the question, or that the question was actually a statement.

I have been interviewed a number of times and see my job (asking good questions) as related to that of the journalist. We will both succeed better with a more balanced, less right leaning stance.