I receive between 100 and 200 emails per day. Every day. Whereas I may think that that is a lot, it does not appear to be exceptional. Once I have relegated the large quantities of spam, newsgroup facts and ‘reply-to-all’ mails to the digital Walhalla with a fine swipe, there are still dozens of emails left that I do need to do something with - read, a short response, a more extensive action, or in any case save them until I get round to them. If I do get round to them, of course, for there’s the rub.
The youth of today - always multitasking; sitting in lectures with one eye on their laptops, one thumb on their telephones; reading with both ears plugged into music. Distractions don't bother them, on the contrary they seek them out. Just take a look at our youngest employees, the PhD candidates: each and every one of them wears headphones.
My father used to work in an open office before the term existed. Some sixty years ago he was a young corporal and torpedo maker, active in the submarine service of the Royal Netherlands Navy.
We are almost nearing the end of January and I would like to wish you a Happy New Year. But it's way past January 6th, so if you think that ship has sailed, I'll wish you all the best for your exams. I know it’s not too late for that. One point to Akarsh!
Looking back at 2016, it was hardly a great year. David Bowie: dead. And Prince. And Leonard Cohen. Muhammed Ali, Alan Rickman, Johan Cruijff, and Peter van Straaten. The British who no longer wanted to be part of 'our' Europe. Not to mention the election of a narcissistic horror clown to the White House. Enough reason for the Executive Board to add another bottle of liquor to our Christmas hamper - for which, thank you - but the comfort of that 12 percent evaporates as easily as the alcohol itself.
No holiday season instills man with such fear as Christmas. Of course, I can understand how all these Christmas lights, along with Michael Bublé, attempt to magically ‘Expelliarmus’ the winter darkness. However, they fail to conceal the emptiness of our existence that is felt when going through the vast number of boxes in which our Christmas decoration is supposed to be stored. The embodiment of despair is adorning a Christmas tree, strengthened by the vocal exclamations of Mariah Carey in the background, worsened by the outlook of having to spend days of binge eating at every single branch of one’s family tree.
The fear of imperfection, atelophobia, is an epidemic our society is currently facing.
Last month I visited Japan for the first time. I was expecting to be stuffed into the metro by people wearing white gloves, expected to see robots walking the streets, and cool fashionable youngsters with dyed hair as in computer games. None of that, of course. The greatest differences are far more subtle, though much more drastic as well.
Lately, it has been pretty easy to enumerate the successes of Eindhoven. GLOW, our festival of light, did particularly astonish its spectators by illuminating boring brick buildings as interactive paintings. Dutchmen from all over the country flocked to the delightful south to marvel at our installations as if they were watching a new Avengers movie, bolstering the city's image and self-esteem.
As someone able to speak from experience when it comes to making mistakes - from minor errors to epic blunders - I felt entirely at home last week Friday at the symposium ‘The positive side of making mistakes’. A mistake does, of course, provide an opportunity to learn, the motivation to change, the basis for personal growth. ‘Yeah, right,’ comes the cynical echo. That voice in your own head, the voice of your parents, your teacher, or your boss during the annual Performance & Development interview often suggests that making mistakes is not actually valued. And that is wrong.
We want a phone with top end specifications, reliable brand, excellent camera and so on. How many of us care about the mines and miners’ conditions, from which the important minerals used in our phones come? The documentary ‘Blood in the mobile’ opened up my mind about transparency and companies’ laws.
“But if there is no selection to get admitted, what is this study program worth?”, someone suggested at an international forum on academic matters. This point of view is typical of some cultures in which competition, selection and individual rewards are quite common.
Sitting in MetaForum recently, I was between two appointments contemplating the idea of doing a quick spot of marking when a piece of TU/e folklore, about which I was unaware, played out before my very eyes. I was seated at one of the long tables next to the stairs leading from the canteen, and it was 11 a.m. - a point at which time and space intersect.
As always, excesses around hazing like those in Groningen are discussed extensively in the media with great anger. Yet these cases should not surprise us anymore. Two of the most famous experiments conducted in psychology - the Stanford prison experiment of Zimbardo and Milgram’s study of obedience and authority – may serve within this context to draw relevant lessons from.
Have you wondered why many Indians talk to each other in English instead of the Indian language? What is India? India the country is comparable to Europe the continent. The largest democracy, of 1.27 billion Indians, is an amalgamation of diverse cultures and more than 2.000 ethnic groups. According to ‘SIL International’, there are 461 distinct languages (1.000+ dialects). 70 different scripts (some scriptless - like Kodava) are in existence with no national language (that’s right: we do not have a national language). There is a very high chance two Indians don’t speak the same language hence converse in English.
It was a tough childhood, some would say, but only she knew how it felt. Children around her called her a weirdo, a tag that felt more like a scar that would stay for life. Trying hard to fit in and failing every day, she would go to bed, weeping. “If only I could find someone like me,” she thought.
As I pour the coffee into my mug I contemplate the things I have to do, the simulations I have to run, the results I have to compile and a million other things related to my thesis. As I am nearing the end of my graduation here, I can’t help but wondering how it will feel when it is done.
Even people who were hiding under a rock last week cannot have missed it. A majority in the House of Representatives voted in favor of a change in the Dutch organ donation system. It was clearly noticeable that the majority was obtained by merely one vote: the discrepancy between supporters and adversaries was immense, ranging from great euphoria among patients on waiting lists for organs to anger among liberal adversaries who qualified D66 as rogue organ dealers.
A few years back, my teacher started his class with the phrase ‘I hate you all welcome’. Naturally, I cringed pretty badly and just hoped he was kidding; this was a demonstration of a highly educated sense of humor, right?
There are probably more aged Japanese soldiers - hidden in the jungle of a small tropical island in the Pacific - who think that the Second World War is still raging, than people who do not know what Pokémon Go is. In parks and streets, in the city and on the campus we see groups of people walking, stooping and focused on their minute screens. Occasionally they look at each other’s screens, then turn back to their own, and while swiping and chattering merrily, without taking any notice of their surroundings, they cross the cycle track where I have to slam on my brakes to give right of way to Squirtle, Rattata, and Meowth. I get reproachful looks. I had not spotted them there for a minute - those cute little Pocket Monsters. I do see a...
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At this university there are students who are not taking any classes, but they are still forced to pay the full sum of their tuition fee. How is that? When you take a look at what they are doing instead of following courses, their reasons become clear. They form one of the most important cornerstones of the TU/e, they are the student board members and part of student teams.