It seems like this:

  • The lashing capacity LC according to the norm (EN 12195-2) means the maximum allowed force on the strap in straight pull.
  • When buying lashing straps, you might get an additional second LC measure that is double of the normal LC. This is the lashing capacity in round pull.
  • Why is round pull LC double that of straight pull LC? Think of an application where you connect two points have 180° deflection of the lashing strap (around a tube or similar) at each, in effect making the lashing strap go a full round. A model for this is a small set of pulleys with two barrels and double string. Each of the strings of the one lashing strap (one going forward, the other going back) now has only to bear half of the force between these two points that you pull together, which doubles the lashing capacity compared to straight pull. And as in a pulley system, the force on the belt is the same everywhere as it can distribute evenly, so the part in the 180° deflection point also bears just half the load of the full system.
  • To make the confusion complete, there is a code concerning straight line seams on the lashing straps. They are called “ton lines” (German: Tonnenstreifen) and people think that they indicate: one stripe per 1000 daN lashing capacity in round pull (not in straight pull). But I have yet to see the norm text for that and could not find any source (Hey regulators! You still don’t have these as open content? C’m on, nobody wants to pay 224 USD for the EN 12195-2). In case of lifting loops, they are called “load bearing capacity stripes” (German: Tragfähigkeitsstreifen) and there, indeed, one stripe seems to mean 1000 kg of capacity, but in direct pull.

See also another (German) site with explanations of the lashing strap norm’s abbreviations (LC, HF, SHF, STF, BF, BFmin).

Before using information in this text for security critical applications, check the facts for yourself. I do not take any responsibility!

Practice is the best way to learn a language. But of course. You don't need a school to practice, but still, my school English got me started. Now I'm starting at zero with Spanish, and I wonder how to do that. So here, I explore the best available tools. As usual for an open source enthusiast, I try to find free and open tools for it. Where unavailable, I'm content with just gratis tools for now 😀

As for learning style, I like self-study for the very basics and daily real-world practice beyond. I abhor educational course materials with conversations … the slow speaking makes me feel even more dumb than not understanding a word. So below, I focus on basics to learn by heart for bootstrapping and on real-world content beyond.

Goal Definition

Let's start with my modest set of goals for now:

  • Pronunciation.
  • Basic everyday conversations. Means, about everything that is not philosophy, rocket science or otherwise highly technical or complex.
  • Following conversations. Getting the meaning when following native speakers' conversations and talks in normal speed.
  • Computer aided reading. Understanding plain every text when reading it in the foreign languge, but it's ok to do so with software support at word level.
  • No focus on writing, though. It's the least required skill for cultural immersion. In my case I have English as my default language for writing, and need to keep it up or I would unlearn it.

Bootstrapping Toolkit

An intensive self-taught course to get you started with Spanish from scratch. This bootstrapping phase should not consume more than 150 hours, that's half way of what would make you reasonably fluent in Spanish for example [source]. In contrast to the "practice and refining phase" which is about learning alongside use, the bootstrapping is really work. Let's get used to the fact 😉 And see this Guide to learn languages [by yourself] for a successful training style and motivation management.

  1. Complete course. Choose according to your taste:
    1. ProSpanish course. Taste differs, and I found this one to be highly effective and relevant from the first word on to achieve fast results for speaking Spanish, as it teaches you basic sentence structure by example. (While the FSI courses below are a more traditional / school type version going through situations etc.). Also I found the ProSpanish course to be very "friendly" and patient, I really like to listen to it. It is however way shorter than the FSI course (about 3 hours compared to 30-40 hours), but might teach you enough for this "bootstrapping level" already.
    2. FSI Spanish Courses. Public domain and available online as both text and audio. This is esp. awesome as these are recommended as the best material in the "How to Learn Any Language" site [source], and they know what they're talking. Following a course is very convenient and you will not need most of the other things in this list. But some folks, including me, do not like courses (feels too much like school …). For these, the other items in this list are sufficient: learn some words and phrases, look up some grammar, then start consuming easy real-world content.
  2. Pronunciation. Spanish is said to be among the world's most phonetic languages: If you have the spelling, you can pronounce the word. How to learn the rules for that?
    • Spanish for Dummies: Vowels and Consonants. Two videos with the most concise and understandable presentation of Spanish pronunciation that I could find. Keep listening to them, and you'll know …
    • WordsGalore audio vocabulary. The best way to learn Spanish pronunciation that I could find so far. WordsGalore is a gratis (yet not free) vocabulary trainer software with the special feature that you can just scroll through its word list very fast, and it will speak the selected Spanish word. This way, I was able to infer the pronunciation rules from the examples in half an hour, while at the same time training pronunciation and memorizing the rules by example rather than in abstract form. See also my post on the WordsGalore installation instructions for Linux.
    • 123teachme.com: Spanish Pronunciation Lessons.
    • Mightyverse. Thousands of native speaker videos for pronouncing words, phrases and short texts. Indeed, watching people speak is another thing than just knowing the rules.
  3. Grammar cheatsheet. What I want is just a 2 page A4 grammar to fix above your monitor when instant messaging, e-mailing or writing in Spanish, and to learn by heart that way. I have not found a good free one, so I created this open content Spanish Grammar Cheatsheet (source here). Corrections to me, please!
  4. 1000 words. Learning the 1000 most frequent words makes you understand 88% of oral Spanish [source]. However: It's no good to learn more than these in list style (it does not work that way). Instead, start learning by example after that – see the other toolkit below. I also found that it makes the most sense to only learn the "production" direction: see the English word, say the Spanish one. It's the difficult direction, but you need it to speak, and it implies the other one. Options where to get the word list, by adequacy:
  5. 250 conversation phrases. Modules of daily conversation, to learn by heart and construct sentences with. Because grammar and single words do not help to create real-life sentences (want a funny illustration? see message 64).
    • Create your own list. I did not find a list that's really about the most useful phrases and sentence modules, so I'm compiling my own and will publish it here.
    • SpanishDict Phrasebook. 8000 phrases already – but the problem is, there's no help narrowing this down to the 250 most relevant ones.
    • WordsGalore: 1100 Spanish-English Phrases. Great list of short sentence building blocks. Gratis but not free.
  6. Desktop vocabulary and phrases trainer. There are several options of course. Here is my list of desktop vocabulary software for Linux, ordered by my own subjective evaluation (the best first):
    • Mnemosyne. Very very nice, free and open source software. You can add sound, images, videos etc. to question and answer sections, and it has a sophisticated algorithm to not waste your time on words you know. There's even an Android application for training; see below. See also my post on installation instructions for Ubuntu 12.04. Vocabulary card files for Spanish words and phrases are available via its old site; I propose to use the following:
    • Parley.A sophisticated vocabulary trainer application for KDE4, free and open source. Includes the option of playing sound files for the pronunciation when doing the flash card testing. Available in the Ubuntu archives. What got on my nerves however was the inefficient way it asked me for words I knew, so I chose Mnemosyne over it. Recommendations of word lists for it:
    • WordsGalore. A gratis (yet not free) software that comes with a vocabulary of the 1000 most frequent Spanish words (it's CC licensed now, see above). I missed a "ask the Spanish word" mode in this. For installation on Linux, see my instructions.
    • KWordQuiz. Also nice. Shares the same XML format with Parley, with a bit less featured interface (like, no lesson grouping for words).
    • granule. Quite nice and usable, including sound file support for pronunciation. However, unlike Parley it seems to be no longer in active development. Version 1.3.0 is available in the Ubuntu archives, but version 1.4.0 is already out.
    • OpenTeacher. I did not test this; yet it seems to have no support for attaching audio files for the word pronunciations.
    • KVocTrain. Vocabulary trainer application for KDE3. I used it in 2000 and contributed the first vocabulary file to it 🙂 Now it is superseded by Parley or KWordQuiz for KDE4.
    • Even more options. A German article listing even more Linux vocabulary trainer applications.
  7. Smartphone vocabulary and phrases trainer. I'd like to have an Android application that I can feed these 1000 words and 250 phrases into, for training in them whenever there's a spot of free time to do so. Proposals, as per my own evaluation:
    1. Mnemogogo and Mnemododo. An Android application and plugin for Mnemosyne (recommended above) to learn the vocabulary and phrases on the phone.
  8. Language basics material. Something to help learn and combine the above pieces. By adequacy:

Practice and Refining Toolkit

Once beyond the basics, I like to learn a language "effortlessly" while using it rather than as a dedicated activity. Here are tools to help with real-world content while refining pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar:

  1. Talk to a native speaker. The most fun and awesome way to learn a language. Either you are really lucky and have a patient native speaker friend. If not, you could go straight for an immersion experience. Or to fiverr.com, where nice native speakers are up for video-teaching you for $5 (for Spanish: uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete … and many more).
  2. Content for practice. Not using a language in daily life makes you forget it again. In my case, I practice English by writing everything in it, but could consume content in Spanish. Just some stuff that I find interesting; only real-world content, no educational resources any more:
    1. Textual content. For example, read Google News in Spanish.
    2. Audio content.
    3. Video content. When using subtitled video content, I found it a good idea to progress from videos with English audio / Spanish subs to those with Spanish audio / English subs to those with Spanish audio / Spanish subs (the latter at first when watching a second time).
      • Of course there are thousands of videos on YouTube, with and without subtitles. You can download the videos for offline use with an open source tool like youtube-dl, and you can download the subtitles with various open source tools.
      • You can watch full movies online with added subtitles, at universalsubtitles.org. You can watch English full movies with Spanish subs and vice versaThey use their free & open source Amara software. It is not clear to me so far if the subtitles themselves are open content (see here vs. here). For offline use, again download the video with youtube-dl and the subtitles from universalsubtitles.org by clicking on the required language in the left-hand list ad selecting the "Download" button. Then play both together, for example in VLC: with the subtitles in SRT, SSA or TTML format, go to "Media -> Open (advanced) …", select your video, and and use the "Use a subtitles file" additional option to add the subtitles.
      • You can download free & open subtitles for movies you own at opensubtitles.org and watch both together (see last paragraph for instructions).
  3. Translator browser plugin. It has to be high-usability. I would suggest it has a mouse over mode that is active when pressing a dedicated modifier (like the Windows key, sitting quite lonely on the Linux machine keyboard here). The translator also should be capable of interlinear translation, displaying the translated words above the original ones in a separate line; that's even more comfortable for texts with lots of new words. By adequacy:
    • Hyper Translate Plugin for Firefox. It translates selected text in a tooltip, whether single words or whole phrases. The most comfortable tool I could find, if you configure it so that it translates single words on double clicks and phrases when selecting them and pressing "Ctrl". Also, this works really fast. However, it seems to me that this plugin (in the version from mid 2012-08) has a huge memory leak, so I have to re-start Firefox from time to time to not run out of RAM. But I have to investigate further if it's really this plugin …
    • Wiktionary and Google Translate Plugin for Firefox. Double-click a word (or for hyperlinked words, use the context menu) to translate it. Also can be configured to use a mouse over mode (using a modifier key), but that mode is not really usable for switching between words to lookup, as the lookup itself is quite slow and the popup closes only when configured so and when the mouse is at least ca. 3 cm from it. Also, this cannot inline-translate whole phrases, so takes more work when not understanding a complete sentence (and you don't want to go for whole-page translation by Google, which is available from this). And what's really a nuisance: it always presents you the translation in the first language in which the word is found in on Wiktionary, with no way to configure lookup priorities. On the upside, the word lookup relies on free & open Wiktionary, the translation tooltip contains much information and is freely styleable.
    • Inline Translator Plugin for Firefox. It translates selected text in a tooltip, whether single words or whole phrases. This relies on the proprietary Bing Translate API, and at least it stopped working because the author's account balance for that service ran out.
    • Easy Google Translate Plugin for Firefox. To be tested.
  4. Audio slowdown browser plugin. Something that can speed down the audio or audiovisual playback by a configurable amount, while keeping the pitch of the voice intact. This should enable you to follow regular speed native speakers' material. There's a speed setting on youtube.com (behind the gear button on all videos), and there's a way to play back with VLC in slower speed in two steps (using the "Arrow Left" key). But this will not keep the voice pitch intact. [TODO – Still to be found.]
  5. Writing assistant. A desktop application both for interactive and non-interactive writing. It should include a grammar checker, spelling checker, accent auto-correction and in-text commands for translating words (like typing "es:occupy", and it converts it to "ocupar").
    • LanguageTool. Open source software for style and grammar checking that is both available as stand-alone and LibreOffice plugin.
    • LibreOffice. For spell checking in non-interactive writing.
  6. Mobile phone dictionary. For Android, as we're about free and open here.
    • QuickDic [here on Google Play]. My current favorite: free and open source, fast, and independent of any Internet connection by offline storage of the dictionaries. It uses Wiktionary data, so has about 40 000 entries.
    • English Spanish Dict.FREE. Gratis but not free; ad-supported with an ad-less pro version available. Also offline, and with the advantage of having 86 000 words.
  7. Extensive online dictionary. Including all the really special and technical words. Should also include pronunciations of the words.
    • SpanishDict Translate. Phrase and word translator, including one million words with very informative output. Gratis but not free.
    • Wiktionary for Spanish. Upside: Free and open. It has ca. 40 000 entries as of 2012-07. Not that many, but a good start.
    • linguee.com. Not to be missed in this context, because it's very useful for exact translation of really special words and phrases. It's based on automatic evaluation of professionally translated texts, like EU laws.
  8. Spanish verb conjugation tool. Options:
  9. Grammar essentials. A ten-page or so short grammar to learn by heart over time. It's not meant to construct sentences (it does not work that way) but to have the basic rules in mind for recognizing them again in real-world examples, thus making the most of the examples you encounter. By adequacy:
  10. Extensive grammar reference. Word of caution on grammars first: open your grammar book only after having made good progress with learning by reading and listening — it will make no sense to you before [source]. There are several out-of-copyright grammars available; you might learn some funny ancient Spanish, but then that's what free and open Spanish sounds like 😉 The following recommendations are mostly from Google Books; they are available as downloadable PDF, but then lack the searchable text from Google's online version. But since it's public domain material, we could add it and re-publish. By adequacy:

 Background Tools and Resources

Standards for v-belt profiles

Basically, there are these groups of v-belt and other belt profiles in use in Europe today:

  • conventional or classic v-belts (German “klassische Keilriemen”): standardized in DIN 2215 / ISO 4184; using one-letter profile names in different sizes (Z, A, B, C, D, E), in many cases the profile is also named by its width in millimeters (10, 13, 17, 22, 32, 40).
  • narrow-profile v-belts (German “Schmalkeilriemen”): standardized in DIN 7753 Part 1 / ISO 4184; using SP profile names in different sizes (SPZ, SPA, SPB, SPC). Probably, “SP” stands for German “Schmalprofil” (“narrow profile”).
  • high-performance narrow-profile v-belts, open shoulder, toothed (German: “Hochleistungs-Schmalkeilriemen – flankenoffen, formgezahnt”): standardized in Europe in DIN 7753 Part 1; using XP… profile names in different sizes (XPZ, XPA, XPB, XPC).
  • wide-profile v-belts (German “Breitkeilriemen”, “Variatorriemen”): standardized in DIN 7719 / ISO 1604.
  • flat belts (German “Flachriemen”): used in different applications such as tangential belts, folding and conveyor belts and machine belts [source]. There seems to be no widely accepted standardization in this area, they are named by the measures of their rectangular cross-section.
  • round belts (German “Rundriemen): mostly used for conveying and driving tasks in mechanical engineering.
  • ribbed v-belts (German “Rippenriemen”, “Mehrrippenriemen”): in cross-section similar to flat belts, just that the bottom looks like multiple little v-belts running in parallel. Used for example in several modern vehicles.

For a short description of the different types, see HUG-Technik on Keilriemen [German]; for a more detailed introduction, read tedata.com on v-belts. For an overview about DIN and ISO standards relevant for v-belts and similar devices, see HUG-Technik on important standards for belts [German]. See also the English Wikipedia on mechanical belts and the German Wikipedia on v-belts; though both of them lack extensive information on belt specs yet.

The DIN and ISO standards cited above are used in Europe; in the US, the standard RMA/MPTA (and in the UK, BS 3790) specifies minimally different but overall compatible profiles with other profile names. [source]

Standards for v-belt length

Length conversion table. A very important tool to work with belt specs is a v-belt conversion table. That’s because the type of length for nominal length (the length to give when specifying a belt) is different for the different types of belts (for example, it is “inner length Li” for classic v-belts – also the only error in the v-belt  conversion table linked above).

Li, Lw, La. For every v-belt, one can give three lengths: inner length Li, effective length Lw and outer length La. These abbreviations are derived from German words “Innenlänge”, “Wirklänge” and “Außenlänge” respectively and might only be in use in Germany. Inner and outer length are the inner resp. outer circumference measure of the v-belt, without any linear tension on the belt and in circular shape. Effective length is a fictive median length of a v-belt that is the circumference at a certain depth of the belt profile. Namely, at a depth that has the “effective width” (German “Richtbreite”), for which see the corresponding column in the v-belt conversion table. Lw is used as the nominal length of belts with profiles SP*, XP* and X*. Synonymous to Lw, some manufacturers use Ld or Lp. [source]

Belt number. For classical v-belts, there is another identification system in addition to the “20 x 3500 Li” type: the belt number (German “Riemen-Nr.”). It consists of the normal profile size designation letter and a number that normally corresponds to the inner length in inches (rounded, where necessary); for example, “Z 22” or “D 150”. [source] A list of these numbers can be found on this v-belt index.

Measuring v-belt profiles

Real-life examples of measurements – all values below are measured with light touch of the caliper:

  • height of v-belts
    • nominal 10 mm; measured 9.3 – 9.7 mm (in convex curves, 9.8 mm)
  • width of v-belts
    • nominal 12.5 mm; measured 12.3 – 12.4 mm

Measuring v-belt lengths

Measuring v-belt length Lw. It is usually proposed to measure a v-belt by cutting it and nailing it flat to a board [source]. However, this is not what you want if you need to determine the size of a new v-belt that has lost its labelling. So here is a different procedure that I developed and tested successfully:

  1. Mark a line on your flat, hard floor by taping 2 measuring sticks to it, and also tape an end stop marker like a flat wood piece to the start of the first stick.
  2. Add a small cable tie around the v-belt to be measured and use that for marking the start and aligning it to the start marker you taped to the ground.
  3. Roll your v-belt on the ground along the measuring sticks until you went one full circle.
  4. Take the measure and interpret it as effective length Lw of the v-belt (which it is, approximately).

You could do two or three measurements and take the average, but this seems not necessary as this kind of measuring, properly executed, has repeatable results that are up to 1 mm exact. In contrast, measuring with a flexible measuring tape while holding the v-belt in your hands is not recommended, because the results are less exact (my experience: repeated measurement of a single belt resulted in 3505 mm Lw and 3520 mm Lw, while the result with the roll-on-floor technique was 3522 mm Lw). When measuring while holding the belt in your hand you have to take special care not to bend it during measuring, as bending will increase the measurement more towards La; for the above example, measuring with light bending increased the measurement to 3533 mm Lw while it should have been 3522 mm Lw).

It is said that the measure taken by this procedure is the “median length” of the v-belt [source], though “median” here it is probably not meant in the mathematical sense of “length at a profile height where half of the profile area is above and half is below that height”. In practice, these measurements are said to be a good enough approximation of the effective length Lw. While it is a good enough approximate, my tests suggest that the length measured this way also depends on the properties of the belt build-up, so is not always the average, median or whatever length that could be generically specified. The measurement is for “something between inner and outer length”; exactly which mostly depends on how the belt is built, namely, how far to the outside the pull-resistant strings are located. Because, these seem to work like a hinge when bending or unbending the belt, affecting the depth of the area on each side that gets either compressed (so, shortened) or pulled on (so, lengthened). These fibres are normally located right below the upper edge of the belt, so the measure is normally more towards the outer length than the Lw measure is.

Measuring v-belt length La. It is said that one can do that by placing the belt in circular shape on a flat surface and placing a flexible measuring tape around it [source]. However in practice, this is hard to do as you need some tension on the tape to not measure too much. It works well when the velt is still mounted, though.

Determining Lw without a belt. In case you have a device needing a belt but don’t know which one, place a rope around the belt path that has approx. the thickness of the pulley profile grooves. Mark the length of rope you need, take it out again and measure that length when laying it straight on flat ground. This is a  good approximate for the effective length Lw of a fitting belt. (As an alternative, there is a formula to calculate this from La or Li, and online calculators for that.)

Various experiences with measuring v-belts

  • At times, some v-belts seem to use the wrong signing schema. One belt had the classic profile, so the signing of “20 x 3550” was to be interpreted as Li = 3550 mm. However, all measurements turned out with Lw = 3522 mm, so an even larger measure of 3550 mm can only be La, not Li. The formula produces a result coherent with this: La = Lw + 31 mm = 3522 mm + 31 mm = 3553 mm. Another, quite old belt from Continental was SPA profile so should be labelled with Lw, yet the label said “12,5 x 1200 La“.
  • Amount of difference between measured flat length and Lw. In one case, a classic 20 x 2000 mm Li belt was measured with 2060 mm flat length. Lw according to the formula is Lw = Li + 48 mm = 2048 mm Lw. The difference of 12 mm is quite small and probably comes from the fact that the pull-resistant fibres are not exactly located at the diameter corresponding to Lw; see above.
  • Different formulas for converting to / from Lw. Interestingly, there seems to be at times a slight divergence of what formula is to be used for converting from effective length Lw to Li and La. For example, this v-belt conversion table and basically all other such conversion tables on the web state for a 17 mm wide classical v-belt: Lw = Li + 40. However, one 17 mm classical v-belt belt was found with an inscription saying “PETER-BTR 17 x 1320 Li / 1363 Lw”, corresponding to Lw = Li + 43.

Storing v-belts correctly

It is said that v-belts are normally built by manufacturers to reach a lab runtime of 25 000 hours [source]. If this is reached in practice also depends on proper storage conditions.

If properly stored, v-belt properties do not change for several years. However, most rubber-based products will deteriorate if improperly stored or handled (like being exposed to oxygen, ozone, extreme temperatures, light, humidity or various solvent agents). [source]

Therefore, the storage location should be dry and dust-free and must not contain chemicals, oils or solvents at the same time. V-belts should be stored without any force on them (pressure or pulling force) to avoid any permanent shape changes and other damaged. This also means that they should only be stored in hanging condition if the hanger pin is at least ten times the height of the belt profile. Additional maintenance hints for rubber products are found in DIN 7716. [source]

I had a really, really strange dream yesterday in the morning, while I was half sleeping, half awake. There was a frame made, like painted from thick black lines, and in it there were simple color drawings of objects, two at a time. And these drawings were exchanged at a frequency of 6-8 times per second (which means wall clock time, as I could compare the dream frequency, or the subjective impression of that, with the real-world time while slowly awakening). At first (while mostly dreaming) I was able to recognize some of the objects being shown in that high speed, but later (when being more awake) not so any more. Too fast.

This made me get on an idea about the (yet largely unsolved) meaning and role of dreams: namely, to develop and to train the raw material and the speed for flow state thinking. Because dreams go much faster than the real world, and flow state imaginary thinking of “what probably happens next” is just like that, much faster than reality and than normal thinking.

You know “flow state” from these horrific little moments when you see something bad happening to you physically some 0.5 to 2 s before it happens indeed. These seconds feel like slow motion: you think so much in this time about what happens and what to do to avoid it that you later wonder how it all did fit into these fractions of a second. That’s because thinking is much faster in this state of mind – and because reality provides no training to react to such situations, maybe the fast pace of dreaming is this training for the dangerous situations in life, training our mental abilities to react fast enough to avoid the worst outcome.

All speculation of course, but perhaps somebody feels inspired to do some research 😉

So now that we’ve grown up, and started to work for money, we finally start to ask ourselves: Wherefore should we live then? We see most people choose to live for children, and some choose to live for themselves instead. The former have children and no money, the latter have money to spend and no children.

Now, these both ways to live life could not stop the deterioration of Western societies, which started in (say) the mid 1990’s and is in good full swing as of 2011. It’s not the technichal challenges of more scarce resources that we face, or the dangers of unregulated greed (in the financial markets and at home). The real, real problem is that in a land of Cockaigne like this, parents can never succeed to transfer their builder mindset (of postponed consumption, investment, hope, betterment) to their children and grandchildren. These will find out that near everything can be had without work, and will get too comfortable to even be interested, to desire to learn, and to be creative. It’s bad with the children and worse with the grandchildren. Call it decadence.

Now what? Let’s doubt that taking part in decadence is never a life lived for what’s adequate, whether you have children more decadent than you, or no children, being decadent yourself. Instead, there has to be a life to be lived against decadence. Successfully. What do we need for that?

The new, new frontier. The US could only start to become decadent where the frontier for settlement had passed, leaving civilization, but without vision and without tasks. Of course, people found something to improve and to do during some of the following generations, but finally even that faded. There was something like a last try to remedy this by calling the race for the moon the “new frontier”. Nice try, but itself influenced by decadence: Is space travelling really the first thing that comes to mind when you think of “task” and “vision”?

What we need is the new, new frontiere. And then the new, new, new one. And so on. We need eternal pioneering. Look around and see that the world is in nearly no place as it should be. Sahara is a desert, the Congo struck by malaria, all of Africa by Aids, and much of the world by wrong belief systems. Just for the start. And we Westerners dare to say we see no tasks at hand, when questioning ourselves how to recreate vision and zeal in our society, or when questioning ourselves what to do with the >20% jobless in southern Europe? And then people dare to get on the idea that adding another child or two or three to already 7 000 000 000 people on Earth is a proper reason to live for, even though its more-than-apparent that even more people will even intensify the problems and resource conflicts on this planet?

Let’s get practical: we know how to do military operations, with respect to human resources. People get “deployed” in groups of several hundreds to some battlefield overseas, for some 6-8 months maybe. Then they are exchanged by a new group, and themselves go back to their home country to refresh and prepare again for their next deployment in another 6-8 months. Let’s take this over to all kinds of development aid. Because this is attributing the right role to civilization and homes: a place of refreshment and preparation for your “mission”.

Specifically, I propose to create settlements of ca. 4000 people, who travel to overseas development assistance deployments in groups of 1000. As this is no military operation, this can and should include the whole families (children can get schooled underway). The people at home would work to support them, from logistics to medical care etc.. As in military deployments, there will have to be like 4-5 (minimum) immediate support people behind everybody on a mission, and even more so working for money for these missions. But in any case, everybody’s goal should be to go on deployment (and if only for 6 in 36 months), being the reward for year-long support work.

Some ideas for specific missions:

  • Re-afforest the whole of Sahara. Yea, we had that above. Just plant the trees, it’s good for the planet 🙂
  • Build some big islands, or enlarge others. Having more land in nice climate is always a good thing. Why, for heaven’s sake, would people want to live in Siberia while there’s an island waiting for them?
  • Eradicate AIDS.
  • Eradicate malaria.
  • Eradicate hemorrhagic fevers. And all those other infection sicknesses.
  • We want the rain forest back where it was!
  • We want whales back, and the Indian elephant in big numbers, and all these other lovely creatures. Isn’t it somewhat … heavily self-conceited, that we allow 7 billion humans on Earth and reduced many of the other  creatures to just some thousands per species?
  • Yea and finally, once we repaired and tidied up the Earth, there are other planets to travel to. Yet, first things first!

Remember what the Lord God said after the deluge: spread and multiply and fill the Earth. But Josephus says, the people wanted to stay together in one location, building Babylon and its towever as their central collection point. Yet God wanted them to go and colonize the Earth, he wanted them to pioneer – maybe because of the danger of rapid decadence, should they stay together in all their civilization? So he had to mix up their language …

Pioneering never ends. It must not end, as it’s a crucial ingredient for human mental health.

I made some interesting observations of analogies between faith and economy. Of which we can learn – this time, not for economy, but for faith.

The boom and bust cycle of economy is based on mass psychology. The boom happens when everybody (for whatever reason) hope that the economy will improve, and subsequently invest and consume, which in turn makes their hope be fulfilled as a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the other side, the bust happens because of pessimistic expectations of the future, for whatever reason, well-founded or unfounded.

The interesting thing is when and why the boom tips over to become the bust, and vice versa. In my opinion, the transition from boom to bust happens when any substantial group that takes part in the economy has “hoped too much”. Now when they finally notice that their expectations have been unrealistic (and they probably lost much money that they invested into companies and ideas now not rewarded by the economic situation), they lose all hope. This is unreasonable, but understandable, as human beings are in practice not really guided by reason and logic. What is further unreasonable is that their lost hope spread to the other members of the economy like an epidemia, and the now prevalent expectation that the economy will get worse will let just that happen.

Now, isn’t it just the same in faith? Christians definitely have reasons to hope. But they also can start hoping for things that God did never promise to us. Like that all the sick will be healed during this time on planet Earth. Now when people see good things happen in God’s kingdom, like being part of a great church or having a great time with God, or seeing prayers answered in a row: then people might, inspired by this, start hoping for even better things. That were not promised though. So they inevitably get disillusioned (and the longer they maintained their false hope before that, by all cunny means of self-delusion and psychology, the harder the disillusioning will be). And like in the economy, these people will lose all hope. They fall in a depression, in the worst case even in a Great Depression. This affects their relationship to God, but even worse, it affects their Christian brothers and sisters, which might now also lose hope. That would not matter much if it would be just disillusioning as well, but the problem is, people tend to lose also a part of their justified hope in God, and it might also affect people who did not harbor false hopes. As, they might become desparate about the bad conditions in the Church, where it is possible that people do harbor false hopes and go uncorrected for long times until finally falling into despair.

The good news is, the bust is not the end. In economy, people finally get to their senses and say: we need to move on with life. Let’s use our last pennies and buy some food. And as everybody moves out and again buys the essentials for life for their last pennies, the demand is back on the market, and the economy starts to improve. And then, when people realize this, they can regain some hope, and the boom is back. (Hopefully they don’t get too much of that hope, to avoid the next bust; but that hope has never come true yet … .)

Likewise in faith: when you’re depressed, on the ground, lost your hope on God, you will finally get to your senses and think: Wait, at least the basics are true: Jesus is my saviour, and that’s great. Then you might pray, experience some answered prayers again, again visit your church.

And there, you might even infect others with your new-gained young hope. And this – everybody regaining hope in God – is called: revival.

The old testament law said: Thou shalt love thy neighbor just as yourself. Which establishes a balance: do not harm your neighbor for your profit, but also, do not harm yourself, or allow yourself to be harmed, for the profit of an (obviously greedy) neighbor. This law promotes a 50/50 distribution of resources to your personal well-being and that of your neighbor(s).

This equal distribution means, you are allowed to prevent being harmed yourself. No need to suffer in order to provide a better life four your neighbor than you have. See also Paul, who says that donations should be given “according to the principle of nivellation”.

So God’s law does not call for the full-fledged give-based society, which would be something like, give all to others, and live from what they give you. But I assume that God likes that even better than the 50/50 distribution. The reason for not commanding this is probably that God knows it would not come to pass because of the corrupt human nature, and without happening on society scale this model is not maintainable. Even the 50/50 model does not come to pass in our society (as we experience every day), but having “wasted” 50% of all personal resources for the good of others still leaves you 50% to survive. You might also waste 60% and survive on 40%, but I think God chose the 50/50 rule for simplicity. The exact numbers do not matter.

So after all, I expect that we will have a full give-based society in heaven.