First of all, I am not English and this website is not intended for English people. It’s not in any way useful or suitable for them either. I am done trying to walk on eggshells all the time. If these fragile English eggs crack, they crack. So be it.
Or are my often truly bizarre experiences in Portsmouth the work of the two often but not always sadistic though almost always highly manipulative brothers who’ve been turning my life into a farce filled with deprivation for over a decade? Just like while I am typing this, my typing repeatedly suddenly jumps to a location in a word elsewhere on this page? One of the two is a hacker… Both are very well-connected.
My compassion and understanding do not automatically translate into consent to be abused endlessly.
That said, this would not have mattered in any other place, in any place that is not as nonsensically insular as Portsmouth (and which also has strong anti-foreigner EDL/UKIP sentiments and the occasional related demonstration). It’s sometimes euphemistically described as Portsmouth having a strong sense of community. Portsmouth is a terribly sadistic stupid Dickensian hornets’ nest.
But then again, years ago, I knew an Englishman whose English wife couldn’t get used to Amsterdam. She preferred London. That puzzled me greatly at the time. The couple moved back to England and the guy started commuting to Amsterdam until he could transfer back to England. He was working in a fast-paced environment but in most of England, the pace tends to be often exceedingly slow. Was Amsterdam too fast-paced for her? Or too down to earth?
Indeed, I’m Dutch and from Amsterdam but my mindset is pretty American. I’ve always been driven and I like excelling. Because life is so much more fun that way.
Most English people don’t get that. They just don’t. Excelling is not part of their cultural makeup. They don’t get the concept of joy either.
No, it does not require the destruction of random others.
I became self-employed in 1997. I still am.
I learned the hard way that because of the difference in levels and facilities between countries, working with parties in other countries is quite a challenge. It’s always been impossible for me to explain to my clients abroad what England is like when I increasingly came across as terribly disorganised after my move to England. So embarrassing! It was incredibly hard merely to get a functioning business landline here. Even today, many of the remaining landlines are provided through cables in the air, very vulnerable to so many influences. By contrast, the small Dutch village in which my grandmother was living already became connected via cables buried in the ground many decades ago.
Brexit has helped a lot. It became clear to the entire world what a dysfunctional mess this country is.
Currently, Prince Andrew and Boris Johnson are helping too, unfortunately, in terms of explaining to people abroad what England is like.
England is dysfunctional and largely lawless. Except if you happen to be going hungry and steal a sandwich. Or if you care about the environment and about people getting killed in places like Yemen.
Boris Johnson is quintessentially English. He’s like soooooo other many people I’ve encountered in my now 17 years here. From the petulant drunk called Frankie or Frannie who often sits hollering loudly in the local streets to my landlord in Southampton who used to sail his boat over to France.
Listen, the English voted Boris Johnson into power. He didn’t have to carry out a military coup to get there. Need I say more? That he and the people around him have been behaving like Colonel Ghadaffi or any other old-fashioned dictator, well, that’s the result of how the English voted.
He’s always been a bumbling, lying clown who loves to insult people and likes coming up with stupid excuses. Yet they voted him into power.
And Theresa May wasn’t really that much different either.
This is England.
I can’t make it any prettier. I have very little patience for it. I’ve been climbing these English walls for far too long already. But the coffee is good here and the UK is much less densely populated than my home country. Lots of open spaces, lots of nature. Lots of places with lots of fresh air.
So now I create media. I create videos and write books and put courses together.
Yes, I know it all. I’m an all-round critical thinker these days. Because I have to be.
By the way, visitor, note that there is a “menu” button which gives you access to other pages on this site.
If you’re a philosopher or otherwise into ethics, then it may be helpful to know that I tend to err on the Kantian side and often agree with political philosopher Michael Sandel. In other words… I am surely often perceived as a strong-willed pain in the butt. As “opinionated”. Here in England, that is. Because being alive is not done here. And because of all of that class nonsense.
I am also often initially misjudged as a lightweight, a piece of fluff. That’s partly because I used to look much younger than my years. That doesn’t really matter, however.
So I used to shrug about that until after I moved to England. Women as well as people over 45 so immensely demonised over here… But it’s not just women and the over-45s who get demonised and discarded. And it’s not the whole story because those who don’t get demonised here are often dysfunctional. Maybe the two go hand in hand?
I became self-employed in 1997 (B2B consultancy) when I was still living in Amsterdam and moved to southern England (Hampshire) at the end of 2004, with my business, which still exists today (though “my” hacker is trying very hard to put a stop to that).
I have since (in 2014) started a few more undertakings, but none of them realised any turnover. I wrapped them up as soon as I saw that they weren’t going anywhere because there clearly was no market for them, in spite of what was being claimed here and there.
Live and learn!
Within my business, I initially worked with parties who create and/or use scientific knowledge, particularly in the earth, marine and environmental science realm. I did that with my international network of associates. That network no longer exists. I also removed all my LinkedIn connections a while ago.
If you too are your own boss and want to know why I removed my LinkedIn connections, then this YouTube playlist may be for you: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAh6FW6yjCSqJiinROpbEZlLfvRyCBpte Yes, I look a bit scruffy in those ten videos that are brimming with tips and often have links and more tips in the description. It’s the result of deep poverty; it’s nothing that money can’t fix. It’s temporary.
In a nutshell, it’s like this: In 2008, two neuro-a-typical people neither of whom I knew stumbled upon me and set me off on a journey of exploration of neurodiversity and personality disorders.
I discovered that I have one friend who has a narcissistic personality disorder. I made that discovery that after she mentioned “narcissistic personality disorder” to me, which makes me feel that it is okay to say this about her. She’s a very smart and intelligent woman who has insight into herself. Next, I realised that I also had a woman friend who is autistic; she’s meanwhile confirmed that to me. At that point, I had known both women for decades.
These are not linear ranges. We all occupy a unique spot within the multidimensional space of neurodiversity. It makes some of us more empathic than others, better or worse at mathematics, more or less creative, better or worse at languages or visual arts, endows some of us with a form of synaesthesia, makes us friendly or grouchy, intelligent and fiercely driven or mostly mellow and kind, and so on.
I consider some (degrees of) personality disorders pathological while I see other (degrees of) personality disorders as part of neurodiversity, just like it is clear that the so-called autism spectrum includes people who merely function differently from neurotypicals as well as people who are not able to function easily in our society at all, for example because they are prone to outbursts for example as a result of a sensory overload that makes their brains throw a hissy fit. They need extensive support, as do people with certain purely physical conditions that require extensive support.
I suppose that “pathological” translates into how much specialised support is needed, probably just like Escherichia coli and Salmonella do not have to cause disease, but can. Healthcare and prosperity disparities play a role in this. We’ve seen that so clearly in the Covid-19 pandemic too.
Many autistic people have filters that they adjust, filters on the sensory input that their brains receive. They shield themselves. This is why it can be so hard at times to get through to autistic people. They have extremely active brains (but those brains, the neural connections, have a tendency to get stuck in loops). They are also highly sensitive, highly empathic, with a twist.
Autism and narcissistic personality disorder have overlaps and it is possible to see one as a milder form of the other. A useful comparison can also be to look at animal intelligence. Humans used to be convinced that only humans were sentient beings and now the UK of all places has even added crabs, lobsters, prawns, nephrops and crayfish to its Sentience Bill (which isn’t law yet at this point in time). We are starting to pay more attention to the diversity in intelligence. Intelligence is not only about the written and spoken word, as we used to believe.
Autistic people can understand that something is emotionally devastating to you, but often only if the thing that happens to you would also be emotionally devastating to them. If they love the colour pink, they may blindly assume that you do too. If you tell them that it’s not pink but purple or green that you love, they can then adjust their expectations of what is important to you. (Until they forget again if the initial idea they had is stuck in a loop.) At least, that’s the impression that I have built up. They may not notice that you’re hungry when they’re not, whereas someone with a narcissistic personality disorder can deduce that you’re probably hungry. Or is it the other way around? That depends on the situation, the point in time.
People with a narcissistic personality disorder possess cognitive empathy and, there too, it’s often based on what is important to them. (They often don’t have emotional empathy, cannot feel what you feel.) Money and status, for example. They tend to be unable to understand that money is nowhere near as important to you if it isn’t and they tend to want to hurt you in areas that are important to them. They hurt you to protect and bolster themselves, and sometimes as a way to express their own hurt. They do not have a strong psychological core and there is a dichotomy inside them that is often completely disconnected (no insight). (This is where their tendency to lie comes from. It’s not necessarily always true deliberate lying. This is also why people often believe the lies. Because the lies they tell are often genuine beliefs for them, beliefs that they need to cling to so as not to fall apart.)
People with a narcissistic personality disorder usually do not have the ability to understand that other people are different, have different needs, wishes, sensitivities, preferences, likes and loves. Autistic people do.
People with a narcissistic personality see themselves reflected in others. This works in at least two ways. They expect other people to tick exactly the same way, so they can be highly suspicious and see life as a perpetual game in which they need to “beat” the others. But it also means that they are who others tell them they are. If they are told that they are good and great, this is what they will often reflect back at you. If they surround themselves with good people, that makes it much easier for them to be good people.
This is what is known as “narcissistic supply”. This is where it gets really complicated because people with a narcissistic personality disorder often imagine this narcissistic supply where there is none. They can believe that someone admires and loves them when that person does not.
However, if you tell people with a narcissistic personality disorder that they are horrible people, that is often who they will then be. They will then be people who behave in a horrible manner in their dealings with you.
So, how you manage them depends on what you want. If you are in a relationship with someone who has a narcissistic personality disorder and you know you want to get out of that relationship, you have to a take a different approach than if you need to work with a colleague who has a narcissistic personality disorder.
Here is the thing that I want you to remember at all times. Because it has the ability to bring peace and balance to you. People who have a narcissistic personality disorder – and also people who are autistic – cannot choose to be different. Their brains work differently. Their brains developed differently when they were still very small children. Babies. Toddlers. They had no say in that.
I have learned to love – or should I say “appreciate”? – my friend with the narcissistic personality disorder, but she is basically out of my life now. I used to see her as quirky, very intelligent and often oddly “hard-shelled” (callous, but it was only the outside) and tough as well as unemotional – and constantly apologising, I recognise now – until she began to let me see, in moments of despair, the other side of her. That is when I started to see that she is not really that different from the rest of us. When her mother passed away, her world collapsed and she fell apart for a while. She then said some things that I didn’t understand at all at the time. Over the years, she had said other things to me for which I had no context and that puzzled me greatly at the time, along with some of her behaviours. Then it all began to fit and I began to see the the whole person, the person who she probably cannot see.
What we often forget is that the spoken and written word are not the only forms of communication. Some people are only able to express their true selves through music, others through giving money, some through being there for you emotionally and listening to you and yet others silently make a cup of soup for you and offer you shelter under their roof (but may seem emotionally absent).
Oh, yeah, it is complicated. Sure! Some of my insights about my friend I would never have had without others filling me in with details, things that she never told me.
In fact, here is your wake-up call… in case you are imagining me with rose-coloured spectacles.
For 13 years and counting, I have been the target of something that was and still is often nasty and that was often obscured by community abuse. In fact, none of it would have been possible without my dehumanisation by random others, local people who don’t even know me as well as English politicians who promote otherisation for the sake of votes (divide and conquer).
It’s a phenomenon known as sadistic stalking (see forensic psychologist Lorraine Sheridan’s work). It’s a form of stranger-stalking that in my case has been dominated by extensive hacking, which is often 24/7, but has also included for example animal cruelty as well as brainwashing attempts.
“You have cancer, you’re a horrible person and everyone hates you, you have kidney disease, you were sexually abused as a child, you have multiple personalities, you are a narcissist” and so on. I also got the astonished-sounding “you’re actually a really nice woman” one day, years ago – and I thought “No shit, Sherlock” and laughed – but it made no difference with regards to my abuse.
There’s been a lot of deliberate creation of loss in my life (including clear sabotage, such as deletion and alteration of computer files) and a great deal of associated taunting as well as threats and disruptions that often have a very childish feel to them.
This is not about me.
It’s about whatever is going on in someone else’s head. Plural.
I often talk about “him” and “he”. I often think of them as the invisible presence in my computer, an entity. I know who they are. They have given me their initials and I know that one of them has a need for a mother and the other one the need for a wife. They have described themselves as two motorcycles with two people on each who both want to steer the motor cycle, be in control of it. (Jekyll & Hyde?)
They want to be unconditionally accepted, as they are. They claimed me and started controlling my life so that they could have both (the mother and the wife), or so they thought. They work with an army of helpers and initially fooled many people into thinking that I was, say, learning-disabled and that they were “helping me” and that I was “very ungrateful” for that help. (At this point, I should tell you that I still only know 2 to 3 handful of people in England, some of which by their first name only and none of them well enough to go have coffee or lunch with or even call.)
I know that these people didn’t create themselves, but being compassionate and understanding does not constitute consent to abuse. It doesn’t equate with gullibility either. It does not mean that I want the entire world to be living in my bedroom or sitting on my couch, and everyone to be my besties or even to be walking in and out of my flat all the time.
I am not an empath, but I am close to it and that means that I need an island of serenity around me at times. It is why I like cities (with a balanced mix of people) and why I loved to sit on the Southampton seashore for hours to watch the waves and the worms and the other crawlies in the sand.
I thought that I had finally discovered a workaround for all the interference that I became subjected to after I moved from Southampton to Portsmouth, an affordable workaround that really finally could be the practical solution that I needed to avoid the interference. Unfortunately, the pandemic – the lockdowns – put a stop to it and I never got to implement this solution.
On my 60th birthday, whoever was doing the hacking at the time wiped out important files (a grant proposal for the University of Twente), both on my harddisk and on a USB stick. (I had checked that the backup copy was on the stick before I shut down my computer.) I came out of the lockdowns with as good as no turnover left. I still get some royalties, thankfully, partly even from work that I did in the Netherlands before I moved to England.
By contrast, when I moved from dreary and dull Southampton to lively Portsmouth at the start of 2009, I initially was over the moon. I had found a close-to-a-dream home in a dream location, where my expenses would be lower, where I had the Southsea Common and the sea around the corner as well as many cute little restaurants and theatres nearby, was about to have a record turnover and had just finished paying off my Dutch student loans.
Everything was looking UP, big time.
My life collapsed completely within a year after moving to Portsmouth.
Many people in Portsmouth were standoffish and actively hostile under what had looked like good-natured friendliness at first.
And nobody – except one woman who was stalked herself once – wanted to listen to me about what was happening in my life. So I developed the habit of keeping my mouth shut about it. That kept everyone happy. (Ask people with cancer how many people walked away after their diagnosis, in search of more pleasant topic to talk about.) If you challenge people’s firm beliefs, you tend to be perceived as a threat. That’s neuroscience.
Next, I discovered what Britain’s whopping inequality is really like when you are in that bottom layer. One third of Brits live in poverty. Many can’t even afford the most basic basics. Did you know that? They often get treated without human respect, admonished and dissed as if they are misbehaving children.
On the evening of 26 December 202, throughout 27 December 2021 and most of the 28th, all I had in my kitchen cupboards was around four fifths of a packet of buckwheat (great protein source), a similar amount of brown rice, two tubes of tomato puree (which I tend to call tomato paste as I can’t picture English people calling it puree, which is what it is called in Dutch too), a little olive oil and two potatoes. Half a jar of instant coffee granules and about half a packet of ground coffee. That was it. That was all.
If you want to support me in the meantime while I get my life back on the rails, you can of course buy my books or subscribe to my YouTube channel, but you can also PayPal me three bucks for coffee or something like that. (I run on coffee. Without coffee, I become pretty dysfunctional.) So that is what you can do for me. I think that that still tends to work, yes, that it does not suffer from hacker interference. Alternatively, send me some coffee through postal mail, or toilet paper, rice, onions, simple things like that.
Who I am other than that, you ask? First of all, I have always been a catalyst – or a change agent, if you prefer that less chemical phrase. That appears to be my inescapable role in life. Perhaps that’s because I am highly conscientious. The more I tried to avoid this fate by running away from it, the more often I found myself facing it, often at great personal cost.
Sometimes, I deliberately push. And at other times I nudge or do nothing at all. You could say that I am like water, sometimes gentle and unobtrusive, sometimes loud and forceful. This is what I started saying after I moved to England where confidence is not done. I started apologising for who I was, non-stop. I am so sorry that my breathing offended you, dear Sir, Lady. An English woman once walked over to me to whisper into my ear that she could not stand working with that Canadian woman over there. Too loud, you see. Women must be Victorian waiflike doormats or what?
It is also because I am one of those problem-solving types.
Because people like me love solving problems and love making things better, we can be perceived as focusing on the negative. But that’s on you! Perhaps your response is motivated by an aversion to change. Me, I love spotting problems because I see them as opportunities. As a child, I always loved cleaning dirty silver because you could so clearly see the effect of what you were doing. The dirtier, the better.
Then consider the following.
The greatest benefits do not come from people who agree with everything that you say and do. Yes-men – and women – always nod, never shake their heads in disagreement. Surrounding yourself with your clones hampers your growth and potential. But that is very English. People usually don’t get hired on the basis of their capabilities in England but on the basis of who happens to know them – knows of their existence – including of who their dad is.
That said, the way our brains work, someone who challenges someone else’s firm beliefs will often be experienced as unpleasant and possibly even threatening, certainly initially, wrote Oxford neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor in her book “Cruelty: Human evil and the human brain.”
Though I often fail miserably as I am in no way perfect and have my limits, it is usually my overall aim to help improve harmony, health, mindfulness, well-being and inclusivity, and benefit people in all sorts of ways.
You can’t really get people to take notice and start improving things, if all they do in response is nod in agreement to what you say, in other words, if you are too “agreeable”. You usually have to shake them up a bit before they will take any action and set out to change their environment. This is why for example diversity training often has little effect.
- My main background is in the earth and life sciences. I’m a geologist and marine biogeochemist, to be precise.
This cropped photo shows me shortly before I moved to England. I am standing on a river vessel near Arnhem in the Netherlands, holding a glass of wine during a social get-together with a group of people from Arcadis.
- I am not into consumerism. I am not into status symbols and appearances.
- I am a feminist, by which I mean that I don’t see women as flawed human beings. After I moved to Portsmouth, my view of men changed dramatically and I became a radical feminist.
- What I also often am – or at least, used to be, because it’s not quite done in England – is a bridge-builder, a mediator, for example, between groups of people who have trouble understanding each other, such as scientists and non-scientists.
- And I love learning. Without continuous learning, life would become pretty boring, wouldn’t it?
Below is first a bunch of stuff that I wrote for unknown locals who were making up shirt stories about me and spreading them around, people who work at local supermarkets and the like. I’m leaving it in here.
Before you discard me as a bookish desk jockey type who is best suited for making cups of tea and watering office plants, well, not only are geologists and marine scientists rarely bookish types because they carry out geological fieldwork in remote locations, spend long months at sea and go to places like Antarctica and Greenland.
- I actually used to work in tourism and hospitality in Amsterdam before I became a scientist. And management used to hold me up as an example to my colleagues because I was always so cheerful and smiled a lot. One of my colleagues told me that, otherwise I wouldn’t have known. I have had guests deliver roses for me, even, and I used to have a little palm-leaf suitcase with a red interior that contained nicknacks guests had given me over the years as well as some other little treasures, such as my mother’s gold bracelet and belt from a dress that she used to wear.
Picture a scene like Victoria station at rush hour and me working in the middle of it, interacting with people from all over the world, ranging from Wallace Arnold tour bus travellers, famous jazz musicians and writers and singers (folks like Chet Baker, Dola de Jong, Juliette Gréco, the Dave Brubeck quartet), Russian chess champions (I managed to get a poster signed by Max Euwe), international basketball teams, Italian tour bus travellers, often grumpy people whose flights were delayed and who were all given rooms by the airline, film-related folks (I can confirm that Sean Connery was a really tall guy), airline crews, lots of random people from countries like Japan, Israel, Argentina, the US, the UK and what have you who were just as important as the famous people and the various people working for all sorts of large firms that had their offices nearby (such as the computer firms Burroughs, IBM and Tektronix but also British American Tobacco). Or picture the tourist office at Amsterdam Central Station. And did you know that I was part of the organisation specifically set up for the broadcasting of the UEFA EURO 2000 championships? We initially were based at the stadium but relocated to the RAI before the start of the matches.
(When I did most of that stuff, women couldn’t get into for example front office management yet because they were not allowed to do night shifts, by law. So these hotel jobs were largely dead-end jobs, for women. I got to do rosters and other stuff for a while when someone else was seriously ill for a while (lung embolism). That was because the man who was the front office manager had to start working nights and needed to be replaced during the day. That replacement was me.)
Okay, now you know that I cannot possibly be as “stuffy” and “impractical” as perhaps you had unconsciously assumed. Still not convinced?! Okay then. How about this? I was the eldest of three, my mother developed breast cancer when she was around 30 (misdiagnosed), passed away at age 42 after it had metastasised beyond rescue, and my self-employed dad had a severe borderline personality disorder (a diagnosis that did not exist yet in those days, but that I arrived at, years later; I’d always known that he was ill in some way because, for example, his logic often made no sense and I was smart enough as a child to be able to see that). So I learned to be very practical from a young age, as did my two siblings. They too run their own businesses; they both help people create warm welcoming homes, each in their own way.
How I got to where I am now after first working in tourism and hospitality in Amsterdam? (That was the Amsterdam Tourist Office, followed by what was then a Crest Hotel – owned by the Bass group – and later became a Holiday Inn.)
When I realised that working at a hotel’s reception desk was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I had myself tested extensively over the course of a few days to see if I had any weaknesses in order to help me choose a career, because I have always liked many things. (I selected an agency, called them, told them what I wanted and asked them how much it would cost to have them assess me.) They also determined my IQ (133) and my interests. I can basically do just about anything, and would do very well in the legal realm, which I had been told before. I was also tagged “not the social worker type”, with which I agreed. This likely has improved somewhat since then, but I am still not exactly the social worker type.
That agency suggested environmental science at Wageningen University for me. Instead, I picked a similarly highly multidisciplinary related field that reconnected me with an old hobby (collecting rocks, so that’s mostly geology, crystallography, petrology and mineralogy). I applied, enrolled in the earth sciences program in Amsterdam, quit my job in tourism & hospitality and ended up spending a large portion of my life aiming to turn myself into a full professor with my own cutting edge research group. Marine biogeochemistry. Planet and environment stuff, in other words. Earth and life sciences. I find that kind of thing highly enjoyable.
I am now based in England, within London’s commuter catchment.
I have also lived in the US and I clicked wonderfully well with the American spirit as well as with Florida’s climate. I had anticipated the opposite, so that was a very pleasant surprise.
Living in Florida got me into hands-on bird rehab. To grow roots in the local community, I called around for suitable volunteering opportunities and Lee Fox’s facility was the first that called me back. Lee Fox was (and still is) well respected and cooperated with for example NOAA. She was later also involved in the Prestige oil spill cleanup in Europe. Even my avian vet in Andover had heard of her, to my surprise. I adopted two non-releasable quaker parrots in 1994. They taught me a lot. In recent years, I have rehabbed a few pigeons. Rehabbing is like being a detective. You observe and research what you see if your experience does not tell you what the your observations represent.
That stopped when I adopted my version of the lockdown puppy, a slightly handicapped pigeon who arrived in the middle of the UK’s first lockdown, with only about 50% of her feathers left. Her Royal Highness Mrs Tweetie Pie. You might not expect that but she is often as opinionated, entertaining and inquisitive as a quaker parrot. She’s slightly more mellow, though, and she’s quite a snuggle bug. She’s constantly taking off with my USB cables, mouse attached or not. She thinks that they make perfect twigs for a nest, particularly the white ones. Those are special.
Below are a few selected bits and pieces about me, with links in RED CAPS. They turn grey when you’ve visited the site in question.
- Non-paying member; occasional reviewer of submissions to Academia Letters
Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble etc
- Member April 2003 – end 2008 (business networking, started by networKing Charles “Ruf” Ruffolo); I also was a member of the Southampton-based SHEA (Southeast Hampshire Enterprise Agency) business club until it folded.
- 2020/2021: Various NAM/APHA webinars that count as CE, including topics like health disparities, all related to Covid-19.
- 2020/2021: Various webinars (STAT, Petrie-Flom Center, Digital Digest, My Life My Say, Food Foundation etc) about topics such as also the food situation in the UK, disabilities and health disparities, also often related to Covid-19 at the moment
Geochemical Society (US-based)
- Newsletter editor Dec 1998 – Feb 2010
Law (English): HarvardX Law School (EDX), pro se/LIP (UK) etc
- From Trust to Promise to Contract 2015 – HLS2x (Charles Fried) (introduction to contract law, 89%)
- Bioethics: The Law, Medicine, and Ethics of Reproductive Technologies and Genetics – HLS4X (I. Glenn Cohen)
This course started out with only about 200 students – one of which was me – and now there are over 85,000 which I consider a very good sign.
- I’ve dabbled in a few other EDX courses, but the only other one that I also really dove into was “Humanitarian Response to Conflict and Disaster – HarvardX – PH558x”.
NIMF Foundation (Network for women in science and technology)
- Board member and member of many committees; co-organiser of two symposiums; panel member for a later symposium – 1988 -2004
- Board member Environmental Chemistry (and Toxicology) Section Mar 2001 – Sep 2004
Supported by Portsmouth City Council
- NCFE-accredited Advanced Learners Course 2010-2011 (Take Part)
- Member Portsmouth Environmental Forum Mar 2009 – Aug 2010 (dismantled)
- Member Toastmasters of The Hague Apr 2003 – Jul 2004
- Course creator
- Entry qualification: Atheneum-B with great distinction (1978)
- MSc with distinction (earth science, 1993)
- Additional diploma for research in chemical oceanography (1993)
- Two certificates for evening courses at the Netherlands School for Journalism (1993)
- Followed by four years of PhD research (marine biogeochemistry) for universities in the US (USF) and the UK (Plymouth/Southampton)
- Self-employed since October 1997, combined with continuing education (courses, conferences and workshops)
Various other organisations besides KNCV (#12421) such as Dutch KNGMG, American Society for Microbiology (#55207518), GAIA, women on the web (Nl) and American Geophysical Union
- Former member for 10 to 20 years; I eventually (had to) let go of my science-related memberships after I moved to the UK
- I also was a member of the Solent NHS Trust for a while, but I never attended any meetings and never really got to find out what it was all about.
- In May 2021, I became a member of the Green Party. I used to vote Lib Dem but learned the hard way that there is almost no difference between the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems. They’re all up to their ears in that bizarre class shit; all believe that poor people deserve to be poor, are genetically flawed and all that other nonsense.
I spent a huge chunk of my life as an adult in the city of Amsterdam. Before that I lived in the city of Leiden for a while, where I studied “German language and literature” at Leiden University for one semester. I was an ace at languages, but my heart was with the sciences.
My standard fees
£65 per hour, £300 per half a day (4 hours), £500 per day, £8,000 per month (exclusive of 20% VAT, if applicable, and exclusive of expenses such as for travel and accommodation). I often work with a fixed project fee.
They say that one image speaks louder than a thousand words so let’s toss in some photos.
This image above exemplifies far too much of life in England, where I’ve been since the end of 2004. Bullying, hacking etc of random strangers is too easily shrugged about, misogyny is rampant, the law is often seen as something that only fools abide by, child sex abuse is quite common too and many people here actually seem to consider cruelty cool, the government often setting the tone. Where does that come from? And is it really all as black and white as it seems? I wanted to know and explored it in one of the books that I wrote.
Nope, I never wanted kids. And I never wanted to be an obedient doormat. I’m a boss. Deal with it. 🙂 I saw at a young age that women who went their own way led far more interesting lives than most other women around me. It also dawned on me pretty early that not taking the well-trodden paths is risky and can be highly challenging but is often also immensely more rewarding and exciting.
Also, before anyone in England starts yelling the usual stuff about class privilege and entitlement, I am going to have to stop you right there. Only England has that class thing. My parents had little more than a primary school education and I’ve had to figure things out on my own. In my highly egalitarian country, a large proportion of the population is well-educated. Relative to the English, Dutch people live in prosperity. The massive deep poverty as a result of the excessive inequality in the UK does not occur in my home country. Low pay is mostly an English thing.
Want an example of the latter? A Dutch friend and colleague of mine in Plymouth once calculated that, in England, she had to work 60 hours per week to make what she would make in the Netherlands in 25 hours per week. Ah, the crazy things we foreigners do for love. Because this woman moved to England to be with her English partner. He tossed her out one day, called her right before she was about to give an important presentation to tell her that he was not going to allow her back into the house when she came home from work. Thankfully, it led her to the guy who became her present partner and with whom she now has a happy life.
This includes promoting awareness that greater socioeconomic equality benefits all segments of society and that discrimination is not a matter of hate and not mostly limited to factors like skin tone, nationality and gender. Many other elements, such as income, age and hair colour, can trigger it too. But we all have much more in common than separates us…
Before I had learned how to start a car, I took a flying lesson in this type of aircraft. It took me hours to get to this particular airfield, but it was worth it. I would have loved to get my flying license, but I realised that the logistics were against me. I subscribed to aviation magazines and looked into getting into a professional flying program but in my home country, my less-than-20/20 vision prevented that. I eventually let go of the idea of becoming a pilot.
As I explained above, I later decided to start indulging in the earth sciences. The step is not as huge as it may seem to some. Flying too requires some science knowledge and geological fieldwork is a great deal of fun, in spite of the many frustrations it can also bring.
The earth sciences contain all the sciences, require you to travel and speak several languages, and involve computers, desk research, lab work as well as field work. It hardly gets any more multidisciplinary than that. Multidisciplinarity used to be frowned upon, but that changed – big time – later. My Albarracín fieldwork report contained a section on the redox chemistry of iron.
I ended up in marine (biogeo)chemistry – yep, the metals; mostly the rare earths – because I hung around after a lecture on chemical oceanography one afternoon. I had skipped that morning’s events because I was not feeling well, decided to attend the afternoon, and after that class, I was invited along on a tour of the clean labs, where the research was taking place. “We are looking for someone who can continue this work.”
All over the world, people were losing their homes at the time because of the subprime mortgage crisis in banking.
I, however, had become the target of, well, let’s call it extensive bullying of all kinds, often sadistic. It didn’t stop after I lost my home. It got worse. The locks to my flat got picked frequently and my flat sometimes got vandalised, for example. There has also been extensive hacking.
The phenomenon is known as sadistic stalking in the classification of forensic psychologist Lorraine Sheridan. While it’s not exactly a laughing matter, this is why I became an inclusivity and diversity maven. I started reading up on personality disorders and about neurodiversity, among other things. How could I not?
That said, I also live in a very insular island community with a peculiar culture. Portsea Island is known for these characteristics within the UK; it was mentioned in a TV documentary but I was unaware of this when I decided to relocate to here. The atmosphere here can be pretty hostile and English culture is peculiar enough to begin with, for foreigners like me.
It turns out that I perhaps am a subject in someone’s strange experiment in the style of Philip Zimbardo (along with “half of Portsmouth”, i.e. 20- 100 anonymous people mostly concentrated slightly to the north of me in North End?). Trying to see if I could be turned into an evil person. A very angry person? Yes. A person who sometimes spouts very angry and evil-sounding words? Yes. An evil person? Hell no.
Earlier I was attacked in Southampton, by the way, within what you can probably also see as a community bullying or gossip context. Because why on earth would strangers around me be okay with being attacked? I wrote about this and other experiences in my book about otherisation (“Is cruelty cool?”).
For those of the locals who still believe that I am making up my professional background, here are a few links to publications that have my name in it:
You can download my resume: here.