Adonis Diaries

Archive for February 27th, 2009

Something about my profession (#53)

Introspection within introspection

I started this chapter in September 13, 2007 as a personal introspection concerning my profession which generated later into a life introspection; I am basically editing this chapter.  Personal rambling set aside, I presently focus on the core of the subject that started my introspection into the industrial and human factors engineering. I have already written over 50 articles and later published them on in the category “Professional articles”.  Thus, this chapter should be technically redundant, but it is for my benefit that I am recapitulating the story.

This chapter is sort of introspection within introspection.  I did not attempt to copy/paste sections from what I had published because I want to discover how my positions and inclinations have changed since then:  It is very revealing to compare texts after a lapse of time and ponder what statements were fundamentally true to you and what were for the consumption of the general public.

Industrial engineering

I spent years pondering on the importance of industrial and human factors engineering and how to communicate their relevance in this fast pace environment of computer aided, computer simulated and computer controlled experiments that generate alternative solutions.  I was baffled on how to explain the difference between industrial and mechanical engineering when prompted: “So you are kind of a mechanical engineer?”  The two fields have not much in common except the pre-requisite courses in the first two years and the connotation to something having to do with machines and geared toward the manufacture and production of goods and the inevitable design of equipment and tools.

By the way, I never had the opportunity to take an industrial drawing course: everytime I tried to enroll for this course, I discovered that priority was given to the undergraduates.  The Dean had failed to include this course as a pre-requisite to satisfying my undergraduate program in 1975.  My guess is that the Dean might have figured that it is not actually that necessary for the graduate industrial engineer, since no industrial drawing would be contemplated, but I beg to differ.  How can any engineer whose basic general function is to design systems and tools not be trained in his mind and with his hand at viewing things in many dimensions?  Frankly, when I graduated I had many offerings in quality control of mechanical specifications to matching standards; I was too honest to declare that I had no industrial drawing schooling or training and declined jobs that were perfectly within my capabilities if I had the guts to lie.

May be the most damaging reason that inhibits me from socializing among people is the first unsolicited question asked: “What is your job?”  This is a question that I struggled very hard to identify and clarify for my own benefit first. I could take the alternative of returning a question by a question and try to find out what a “job” means in the mind of the inquirer. This technique in communication might means that I feel an interest in the person, that I like him to talk, that he would be willing to resume the conversation. I want to take a chance of investigating his reactions first; do we really want to communicate or the question is flatly a socializing gimmick?  Frankly, if I had something to sell or to buy my job should not be complicated.  The problem is that I probably have nothing to sell or buy either product or myself.

I don’t have a vocation and I am not interested wholeheartedly in anything that comes to mind.  I must discover myself and what gives me a sense to fight and struggle; I must know what drives me to wake up early and go at it.

Is my job what I currently do to earn a living or what I have studied and was trained to practice? Should I focus my explanation first on industrial or rather on the human factors engineering issues?  Is my real vocation my undergraduate (in Physics), Master’s (industrial), or Doctoral (human factors) program or what I have read lately?  Am I to disseminate the concepts that I hold to heart or to sell the company or the main product?

These wonderings are not abstract notions to me because I have been affected differently at various stages.  These questions are valid for someone who believes, deep down, that he never had a vocation and never really practiced what he should have been trained to do as a profession.

I consider myself a generalist in knowledge with no specific skills in any job specifications.  What is a job specification if not first, expertise in a very restricted job, and second, a thorough communication of the terms and vocabulary of the job?

Persia/Iran civilizations: Sassanide Dynasty (Part 3, February 27, 2009)

Note:  There is a follow up chapter to the Sassanide period because it had considerable consequences to the Arab’s civilization.


The Sassanide Dynasty reigned from 224 to 651 AC.  As usual, it started in the South East region of Iran.  The ancestor of this dynasty is Sassan who was the administrator of the Immaculate Goddess Anahita; the head of a tribe was the guardian of their particular idol God.  Most of the written accounts are due to the Romans, Byzantium, and Armenians who were the enemies of this dynasty; the remaining information can be found on monuments and current archeological finds.

            Ardashir vanquished the Parthian King Artaban IV in 224 and inherit an Empire extending from current Iraq to the Indus River in current Pakistan.  The Parthian Empire was a formidable adversary to the Roman Empire and checked and defeated the Romans on several occasions due to their heavy cavalry.  The small horses of the cavalry were the ancestors of the Arab stallions.

            “Shapur I” crushes three Roman Emperors’ attacks.  Emperor Gordien dies in the battlefield.  Emperor Philip the Arab or Syrian had to sign a humiliating treaty by which Rome had to pay a yearly tribute.  Emperor Philip was born in Damascus of an Arab tribe that settled in that vicinity. It happened that Emperor Philip was engaged in the preparation for the celebration of the 1000th anniversary of the establishment of Rome and badly needed peace in the Roman Empire. After the assassination of Philip the Syrian, two successive short lived Roman Emperors resumed paying the tribute to Shapur.  Emperor Valerian broke the treaty and was defeated and made prisoner in 260 for 20 years before another Roman Emperor decided to pay for his release and the thousands of other Roman soldiers.  Thus, Shapur expanded his territories to include Syria, Antioch, and Doura Europa in 253 where the secretaries of the Sassanide Empire visited the Jewish synagogues. . 

It was during Shapur reign that the “prophet” Mani preached his new brand of religion that swept Persia, to the Indus and reached North Africa; Saint Augustine attended lectures in Tunisia on that religion. You may read my review of “The Gardens of Light” by Amin Maaluf.

            In the following century, nomadic tribes from Central Asia harass the Sasanide Empire as well as Byzantium in the Caucasus. Emperor Theodose I of Byzantium pays Shapur III to contain those nomadic hordes called Chionites, Kidarites, and especially the Hephtalites “white Huns”.  The Sassanide Dynasty will finally contain the Central Asian attacks by the year 560 thanks to the succor of the western Turks and the Sasanide Dynasty will control Afghanistan.

            Khosro I signed a treaty of peace in 562 with Emperor Justinian for 50 years.  Thirty years later, Khosro II captures Syria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Gaza, Babylon, and most of current Turkey.  Emperor Heraclius would counter attack and enter one of the Sassanide Capitals of Ctesiphon, close to present Baghdad.  The two arch enemies would be vanquished by the new Moslem Arab armies coming from the Arab Peninsula.  In 637, Ctesiphon falls in the hand of the Moslems.  After the defeat in Nahawand in 642, the last Sassanide monarch Yazdgerd III flee to Merv and then to Balkh (north of Afghanistan) and was assassinated in 651.  This Persian Dynasty lasted over 400 years.




February 2009

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