Wisdom and knowledge

She watched her husband as he took off his uniform. His hanging head and slumping shoulders showed the tiredness his smile tried to disguise.
"Good evening my love", he said as he kicked off his shoes. "How has your day been?"
She rolled towards him in her wheelchair, returning his smile.
  "Better than yours from the look of it."
"Oh", he lifted his shoulders half-heartedly. "It hasn't been that bad. Just a normal working day for an old policeman."
He was in his forties. Not particularly old. He had started calling himself old when he teamed up with a new partner. A women in her late twenties.

Rose rolled to the kitchen table, she had set it before he came.
"Maybe you can bring the stew, it's on the stove."
He turned off the stove, brought the stew over and sat down. Reached out and touched her arm. She put her hand over his.
"You say it was a normal day, but you seem more tired than usual."
He pulled back his hand, put some stew on her plate and then on his own.
"Today I arrested two young boys. I kind of know them, or at least I know their parents; we say hello when we meet. One of the boys is stupid as hell, but he thinks he knows it all. He was able to convince the other guy, who actually has some brains, to join him in a robbery. It was meant to be easy, no-one was supposed to be there and all that stuff. It annoys me that the guy who has some brains lets himself get fooled by the guy who knows nothing. Just because the airhead is cocky and more confident than a horny rooster."
She put a spoonful of the stew in her mouth. It tasted exactly right. The way she liked it. She knew Rob liked this seasoning as well, but he was too pre-occupied to notice.
"It is the Dunning-Kruger effect", she said, stopping herself mid-sentence to swallow before continuing. "You know, the most ignorant have a great self-confidence since they do not understand how little they know."
Rob grunted, his mouth filled with stew.
"This is really good", he pointed at the plate with this fork.
 She smiled; he had noticed. Then he continued:
"That is a good description of my new partner. Incompetent and confident at the same time."
"I thought you said you would give her a chance?"
"How can I, when she is such an idiot?"
"She is not an idiot. The two of you just do not see things the same way all the time."
"That is because she is wrong and I am right!"
Rose put down her fork and knife.
"You have had an argument with your new partner for weeks now. Maybe it is time to let it go? Would you rather prove her wrong than get along with her?"
He filled his mouth to the brim and chewed long before answering.
"I want both. And she is an ignorant prick."
"Sorry. But she is."
"I fail to see how a woman can be a prick but I guess that is not the point. Sometimes you are just so hard-headed you don't even listen to other people's opinions. You decide that they are wrong even before they open their mouths."
"No I don't."
"Yes you do."
He sat back, his stomach filled. Cleaned his chin with a napkin.
"So you think my ignorant partner is right and I am wrong?"
"Sometimes she is right, sometimes you are. Sometimes neither one of you is. Anyway, it does not matter who is right. And ignorance is not even the problem. The illusion of knowledge is."
She dropped her napkin. He picked it up from the floor, remembered too late that she did not want to be treated like 'a handicapped person´. He couldn't drop it again just to let her pick it up herself so he gave it to her, avoiding eye contact.
"So you think I believe I know things but I don't?"
"You know a lot of things my love. And so does your partner. If you would work together instead of bickering like an old couple, you would both be a lot better off."
He leaned over, gave her a kiss on the cheek.
"I don't bicker with her. I bicker with you."
He showed off his teeth in a big smile.  When he did, he looked just as boyish as when they met more than twenty years ago.
She rolled her wheelchair backwards, turned it around with ease and moved into the living room. While he cleaned up in the kitchen she came back, a book in her lap.

"You are very street smart", she said, "but to become wise, you should learn a thing or two from Sokrates. Check out the quote on page 28, in the middle of the page."

He finished stacking the dish washer and dried his hands on a towel before picking up the book.

I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing. 

Rob put the book on the table, put his hands on the armrests of the wheelchair as he bent down to kiss his wife.

"It is not completely true, you know. I do know one thing. I know I love you."


The Beauty of Art - Part 9: the answers

Just like in The Beauty of Art - part 7, I chose a less known painting by a well-known artist.

Yes, this is by Carl Larsson, one of Sweden´s most known and most loved artists. Another, more known painting, is Frukost i det gröna (Breakfast outdoors):

One interesting thing about Carl Larsson is that he, like so many artists, painted a lot of paintings before finding the style that he became known for. Here is an example of a painting by Carl Larsson while he was still in art school: Sten Sture d.ä befriar den danska drottningen Kristina ur fångenskap i Vadstena Kloster.

Unlike Vincent van Gogh who only became famous after his death, Carl Larsson became a popular artist during his life time. He grew up in poverty but when he became an adult he had a great family life, so often depicted in his paintings.

The answers to the questions for this Beauty of Art are the following:

Who is the painter?
Carl Larsson
What is the painting called?
Bron (the Bridge)
What type of art is this?
Nationalromantik (National romantic style)
How does this painting make you feel?
I chose it since the little black cat makes me think of our lovely Kleintje who left us too early (see Only life knows its length) and because I like the yellow and orange colors in it. You have stated you like it too, but that you like other Carl Larsson´s paintings even more.

Thanks for your participation!


The Beauty of Art - Part 9

The painting I showed in the Beauty of Art part 8 was unknown to you. The painter of the below painting is most likely known to many of you.

Who is the painter?
What is the painting called?
What type of art is this?
How does this painting make you feel?

The answers will come in the next blog post!


Designing with the most complex part of the system in mind

In Swedish there is an expression called Den mänskliga faktorn.  A direct translation is "the human factor" but this expression is rarely used the same way in English.

In Swedish we often refer to den mänskliga faktorn if a user of a system messes up and causes an accident, even when the system is working as intended. For instance a pilot causing a crash, a nurse using medical equipment wrongly or a bus driver causing an accident.

When reading about such events, it is easy for an engineer to think:
 "Ah, stupid user. The system worked as intended and then this clumsy human screws up."

The designers of the system will most likely feel relief when the human factor is mentioned.

 "Thank god, it was not our design. It was the user." 

It is easy to blaim a person for something going wrong. And of course people make mistakes once in a while, especially when they are in stressful situations. This we all know. Engineers know this too. This is why we should design with that in mind.

Many years ago, in 1991, there was a plane crash in Gottröra in Sweden. Already shortly after take-off, two engines stopped working. The pilots tried to recover the situation but were hindered by an automatic system they had never used before. There were warning lamps lit all over the place. Not one or two, but almost all.

The pilots, with the help of a pilot who was a passenger, did the best they could given the situation. They ignored the system, ignored the rules and safely crash landed on a field. All passengers survived.

At times, the human factor saves the day.

SCANPIX/Leif R Jansson

As engineers, as designers, we should design with the most complex factor of the system; the human, in mind and make the best possible use of him/her, instead of using them as a scape goat when things go wrong.


The Beatuy of Art - Part 8; The answers

So, who is the painter of the painting I showed in The Beauty of Art - Part 8? I am not surprised you did not know - I had never heard of him until I went to Hawaii and saw his art.

The painter's name is Herbert "Herb" Kawainui Kāne. He was also a historian and an author and he did a lot of research. Herb showed that Hawaiian culture was not "an accidental seeding of Polynesia" but that Hawaii was possible to reach from Tahiti, if the canoes were built well.

He wrote an article for National Geogrpahic about his theory about why Polynesians are bigger, with more muscle and fat than other tropical people: "When a chief began a voyage of exploration to find new land for his people, he would choose as companions men with powerful muscles, stamina and ample fat to sustain them in times of hunger and to insulate them against the energy-sapping and eventually deadly exposure to wind and spray. He would bring women who seemed capable of bearing children of that type."

The painting, one of close to 400 canvasses, is called Pele goddess of volcanoes.

In Hawaiin religion Pele is the  goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes. She is also the creator of the Hawaiian islands.

You wrote that the painting made you think of nature's greatness and the glow of humans. I feel exactly the same. That is what drew my attention to the drawing in the first place: the combination of human and nature; how we are part of somethng as impressive and beautiful as the nature around us.

If you want to see more drawings by Herb Kawainui Kāne you can have a look at this web page.



The Beauty of Art - part 8

It is time for a less known artist in the Beauty of Art quiz. For my newsletter subscribers it may be somewhat easier, since you know where I was recently. The subject of the picture is maybe giving it away for the rest of you.

Anyway, here is a picture of the painting I would like your answers on this time:

  • What is the painting called?
  • Who is the painter?
  • What type of art has been used in this painting?
  • How does the painting make you feel?

You will, as usual, find the answers in a coming blog post.


Do you want your kids to be purpose-driven rather than money-driven? Give them a hug!

What is your prime motivator for work? Money, Status or Purpose?

  • Those who are Money driven see work as an unavoidable necessity. The main reason for working is to have enough money.
  • Those who are Status driven believe that work gives them a chance to be successful and prove themselves. They generally hope to be in a higher position in a few months or years.
  • Finally, those who are Purpose driven believe work can be a valuable and meaningful part of life. 

A report called "Workforce Purpose Index" written by Imperative and New York University, shows that your relationship with your mum can influence your preference (!). As can the country and culture you grow up in.

Here are some interesting findings from the report:

The global average is that 37% of those who work are purpose driven. In this picture you can see the top 5 most purpose-oriented countries:

Two of the main conclusions in the report are:

Connecting employees with purpose brings measurable business impact:


People who are purpose-driven, are happier about their jobs:

This is not really surprising. Most of us want to contribute, want to make a difference, and when we can do this at work we will outperform those who are only there for the money.

What I found interesting was a finding that was mentioned in an interview with the CEO of Imperative. He said that all interviewees that identified themselves as money-driven, also stated that they did not have a good relationship with their mum.

So if you want your children to be purpose-driven rather than money-driven, with a higher chance of finding work that makes them happy and that they will be good at - give them a great big hug and take good care of your relationship with them.